Sunday, February 9, 2014

What if your disaster gets out classed (or people forget)

What happens if you are in the process of recovering from your disaster and a larger (more sexy) disaster occurs?

I was in the Philippines recently deployed as a volunteer response team member  for ShelterBox.  I was assigned a mission to do follow up from the Bohol 7.1 earthquake, which got upstaged by Typhoon Yolanda. The Philippines largest Earthquake in 23 years upstaged by the strongest Typhoon ever.
Many of the people of Bohol that I talked with felt that after only three weeks the aid agencies left for the bigger (sexier) disaster. 

In defense of the aid agencies the death toll was 200 vs 6000+ dead and they didn't leave, they moved appropriate (in most cases) assets to the bigger event.

So how do you keep the focus on your disaster? Maybe you can't; but you can prepare to do what you can.

Have a plan before it happens, have the players ready to begin recovery as soon as something happens.
Have the political players in the loop early to keep the focus on your event.
Have your Public Affairs folks working to keep getting the message out, covering the local response angle.

Try this test. Write down places and events that are disasters right now.  Then go to one of the international aid groups and see where they are? What are they doing? Did you realize that happened? Was on going? People were suffering?

Now imagine that is your disaster and most people have forgotten about it?


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