Mexico City, MEXICO (June 4, 2014) — Amid predictions that some of the strongest storms of the season could be centered in the Pacific, World Vision is preparing communities and staff in Latin America and in the United States with training and supplies.
“From our decades of experience in disaster relief, we know it only takes one strong hurricane to create a massive path of damage and even loss of life,” said Fabiano Franz, World Vision’s director of emergency response in Latin America. “Many of the countries where we work in Latin America are more vulnerable than ever as populations increase and more people settle along the coast. Being prepared is the best way to make sure when a storm does strike, people know what to do.”
In Latin America, World Vision continues to conduct training for volunteers between 16 and 25 years old. Through special workshops and simulations done in collaboration with the local governments, civil defense, police and firefighters, the training gives young people skills and knowledge to be first responders and to be mobilized as volunteers to distribute humanitarian supplies, provide basic psychological first aid or reporting to authorities about protection issues for children and other evaluations.
Many of the teens and young adults have also been trained to capture video and pictures of the aftermath, sharing their story and helping them to feel empowered even the worst situations. So far, more than 10,000 young people have been trained in countries including Panama, Ecuador, Mexico, Bolivia, and Honduras, with more countries to be included soon.
World Vision's local emergency response teams have pre-positioned supplies in areas likely to be impacted by hurricanes each year to ensure emergency teams can begin responding immediately. In addition to pre-positioned items in Latin American countries where the organization works that are most vulnerable to hurricanes, there are regional supplies housed in Panama, a country that is rarely hit by hurricanes but is centrally located in Latin America. Examples of the materials include blankets, tarps, mosquito nets, water purification tablets and hygiene kits.
In Haiti, one of the most vulnerable countries as it continues its recovery from the 2010 quake, the World Vision team has prepositioned several tons of food, water, sanitation items and more on the island of La Gonave and in major cities, specifically for emergency response if a hurricane hits.
“We know in countries including Haiti, people are still recovering and vulnerable from past natural disasters,” Franz said. “So we will be watching the radar very closely, prepared to react at the first sign of a storm, by pre-positioning supplies and World Vision staff, ready to respond in those critical first moments after a hurricane.”
Disaster response teams in the United States are also busily preparing for storms.
“We’ve done training, prepared our domestic rapid response team, and brought in volunteers to build relief kits that we are pre-positioning at nine locations to be near seasonal weather hotspots,” said Phyllis Freeman, World Vision’s director for emergency response in the U.S.
Local partner groups, many of them churches, depend on World Vision to supply personal hygiene kits, cleaning supplies, and other household items that families need to tide them over after a disaster. Later, during the recovery period, World Vision teams often bring toys, school supplies and building materials.
This year, responders will introduce child activity kits for pre-kindergarten through elementary-age children. The kits contain a stuffed animal, lightweight blanket, crayons and activity book, as well as hygiene items like a toothbrush and toothpaste in a reusable, hands-free bag. For the first time, World Vision is also stocking “power-out” kits with meals, lights, a fan and a small generator for locations where power may be out for an extended period.
Goods are housed in World Vision’s north Texas warehouse to supply emergency disaster response efforts, which support national partner locations in Jackson, Mississippi; Gretna, Louisiana; Albany, Georgia; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as well as four World Vision warehouses in other states.
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