AMU Emergency Management Fire & EMS Original Public Safety

How Can We Lessen the Effects of Displacement after Disasters?

By Allison G. S. Knox
Edge Contributor

When disasters happen, many facets of a community are impacted. For instance, it is difficult for resources to be replenished, businesses are unable to flourish, and people have numerous problems regarding their shelter and employment. 

Communities must work hard to bounce back from disasters, but individuals must put in an equal amount of effort, too. Displacement from one’s home involves much more than just finding a place to sleep, which is why it is so important to provide a lot of resources to individuals so they can bounce back quickly.

Displacement from Homes Means Dealing with Many Issues

Displacement is a difficult issue for most individuals in a community ravaged by a disaster because every single aspect of an individual’s life is interrupted. For instance, displaced people need to find a new place to stay, but they need to also deal with the damage at their old residence.

In addition, displaced individuals may have to cope with the loss of all of their valuable personal property, having limited access to work clothes or figuring out new childcare options for their children. Displacement is an overwhelming experience and requires community resources and mental health care to help individuals get through it.

Aiding the Recovery of Displaced People

Organizations like the American Red Cross are integral parts of the overall recovery process for individuals who have been displaced. There is also a huge need for advice. Some people may need business advice or advice for finding a new residence. Others may need help to deal with insurance companies and figuring out how to repair their homes.

Community Resilience

Emergency management scholars have focused on community resilience to help communities recover from disasters. But it is equally important to pay attention to the problems of displaced individuals. If we can figure out more ways to assist individuals after disasters, we’ll help a community to rebuild itself more quickly.

Allison G. S. Knox teaches in the fire science and emergency management departments at American Military University and American Public University. Focusing on emergency management and emergency medical services policy, she often writes and advocates about these issues. Allison serves as the At-Large Director of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians and as Chancellor of the Southeast Region on the Board of Trustees with Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in Social Sciences. Prior to teaching, she worked for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. and in a Level One trauma center emergency department. Allison is an emergency medical technician and holds multiple graduate degrees.

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