Did you know that September is National Preparedness Month? It seems like a strange time of the year to promote emergency preparedness, especially for Atlantic Coast dwellers such as myself. This is one of the most active periods of the year for hurricanes, and I would like to think that any individual or organization would already have a plan in place should they encounter such a natural disaster.
Well, I don’t. I haven’t figured out if the structure in which I live in is sturdy enough to withstand a heavy storm, I haven’t mapped out an evacuation route, I haven’t found a location in my neighborhood where I can seek shelter (I’m assuming it’s a local school, but I don’t even know where that is nearby where I live). I don’t have any of my files stored up in a cloud where I could retrieve them should I lose my hard drive. I’m not prepared.
You think I would have learned better. In September 2005, I was living in Houston when Hurricane Rita hit, and that was right after Katrina devastated New Orleans. Luckily, back then I did have a plan. The fourth largest city in the United States was trying to evacuate and jammed all major thoroughfares to the point where folks ran out of gas trying to get out of the area. My roommate and I mapped out a network of side streets that took us all the way out of the city to his father’s place north of the beltway and out of harm’s way.
So, having escaped that hardship unscathed, you would think I always have a preparedness plan in place, no matter where I live. The truth is, always being prepared for a seemingly rare disaster is a hard thing to keep up with. I’m willing to bet that many of us don’t afford the time to back our work up on a second hard drive, or store extra cans of food and water in case of a power outage, or know where our evacuation location is.
I think it is ingenious that South Arts developed an emergency preparedness tool called ArtsReady for arts organizations. The ArtsReady toolkit tells you what you need in place to have a solid emergency plan. They have the ability to store your files in their cloud for you, they give you all of the information of emergency contacts for you and have even developed a network of participating organizations that you can go to for help should you encounter an unfortunate situation.
Even better, Americans for the Arts has partnered with South Arts to provide a 50% discount on a first-year Premium Membership to ArtsReady for Core Level and above organizational members. There is also a free, Basic version of the program available for anyone interested in emergency preparedness for their organization.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency instituted National Preparedness Month in September to remind us of the September 11 disaster in 2001, and that we should all have an emergency plan of action in place should we be faced with a disaster. Regarding the East Coast hurricane season, September might seem a little too late to get a plan in place should a hurricane arise, but it is never too late to be ready in case of an emergency.