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Preparedness Year-Round – 'We Have Seen'

Photo of an American flag waving on top of debris from a home destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.By CAPT Mary Riley, Director of the Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness and Response

As we closeout the 2013 National Preparedness Month, let me remind everyone that preparedness is a year-round effort.  Over the past year alone, we have seen many disasters – the ongoing Superstorm Sandy Recovery; the Oklahoma tornadoes, the flooding in Alaska, the Colorado flooding – only to mention a few. 

Some came with a warning and some did not. In disasters, we have seen families displaced. We have seen child care centers and Head Starts badly damaged or destroyed. These are places that families can safely leave their children. We have seen homeless youth shelters and domestic violence centers badly damaged or destroyed. We have seen families who have foster children impacted by disasters. We have seen that there are increases in domestic violence following disasters. We have seen social disruption in families and communities following disasters. We have seen economic loss in families affected by disasters. We have seen the coordinated effort of ACF offices and programs, along with partners, who have been deeply committed and have valiantly responded in the effort to restore human services for individuals, children, youth, families and communities in their recovery from disaster. 

In our office, the Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness and Response (OHSEPR), we work hard to provide information and tools that better prepares our Administration for Children and Families (ACF) programs, individuals, families and communities, to respond and recover more rapidly from disasters. We are proud to have recently released preparedness information on Infant Feeding During Disasters; How High is Your Family’s Risk in a Disaster, the Children and Youth Task Force in Disasters: Guidelines for Development, and the Early Childhood Disaster-Related Resources.  Please do check them out!

So remember, preparedness begins with you!

  1. Be Informed – about potential hazards
  2. Make a Plan – for you and your family
  3. Build a Kit – for work and home
  4. Get Involved – in preparedness activities (


Mary Riley, MPH, RN, CPH is the Director – Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness Response (OHSEPR) in the Administration for Children & Families (ACF).   The ACF OHSEPR program provides leadership in human services preparedness, response, and recovery, promoting resilience of individuals, families, and communities prior to, during, and after nationally declared disasters and public health emergencies.

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