Earthquake Preparedness: Are You Ready?

Our sixteenth President, Abraham Lincoln, stated, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Join me as we use President Lincoln’s wisdom to sharpen our proverbial axe and prepare for earthquakes in our schools.

Since September is National Preparedness Month, this article pays tribute to earthquake preparedness. In addition, Great ShakeOut earthquake drills occur the third Thursday of October.

According to James R. Martin, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there are four phases to any natural disaster event:

  1. Mitigation “takes place before or between events to reduce impacts. It includes zoning ordinance, building codes and structural improvements. Mitigation is the cornerstone of disaster management.”
  2. Preparedness “involves development of community training and public awareness, logistical support and communications, basic supply needs, early warning and monitoring.”
  3. Response “involves emergency operations, damage surveys, equipment, human resources, funds, communication and baseline maps.”
  4. Recovery “involves rebuilding, claims and feedback from involved parties.” It is the most time consuming of the four phases.

Your first order of business is to consort with local, state and federal emergency response agencies. These agencies have detailed plans in place for earthquake preparedness. Your school is just one part of the overall picture.

Then, there are four avenues to secure grant monies for earthquake preparedness:

  1. Corporate foundations
  2. Federal government
  3. State government
  4. Private foundations

I will use the President’s axe and chop our way through this thicket of grants.

1) Corporate Foundation – State Farm Good Neighbor Citizenship Company Grants. State Farms’ motto is, “We make it our business to be like a good neighbor, helping to build safer, stronger and smarter communities across the United States.” State Farm funds two program areas: disaster preparedness and disaster recovery. State Farm only awards grants to programs with a strong community outreach element. Your local Parent Teachers Association (PTA) is the perfect community outreach tool.

2) Federal Government – AmeriCorps State and National Grants. The first funding priority for AmeriCorps is Disaster Services; improving community resiliency through disaster preparation, response, recovery and mitigation. Most federal government grants are straight forward and extremely competitive. Use AmeriCorps mission, “To strengthen communities and develop leaders through team-based national and community service,” as your catalyst to write a winning grant.

Your first order of business is to consort with local, state and federal emergency response agencies.

3) State Government – California Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. Use California’s proactive approach to “reduce loss of life and property.” California defines mitigation as “taking action now — before the next disaster — to reduce human and financial consequences later.”  Take your own action and research your state grant opportunities.

4) Private Foundation – Coastal Bend Community Foundation Grants. One of Coastal Bend’s focus areas is Disaster Relief; local school districts are eligible to apply for “projects outside of their basic/core services.” High priority is given to requests that are collaborative and focus on new solutions to old problems. A helpful hint is to collaborate with your local sheriff, fire department and other first responders prior to writing your grant.

Are you ready? Get energized and use President Lincoln’s advice, “I will prepare and some day my chance will come.”

Judy Riffle, Ed.D.

Judy Riffle, Ed.D, is a former teacher, university mentor, and K-12 central office administrator with degrees in special education, Deaf education and educational leadership. She was a school district Director of Federal and State Programs in Arizona, including additional hats as a grant writer/manager, English Language Learner Director, Homeless Student Liaison, technology committee facilitator, fundraiser and teacher professional development coordinator. Dr. Riffle began writing state, federal, corporate and foundation grants in 2008 for a school district, and branched out to independent grant consulting in 2011.

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