Disaster Relief & Recovery

Preparing for Disasters, Service and Recovery

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In the United States, September is National Preparedness Month – a time to remind  ourselves to be prepared for disasters and emergencies in our homes, businesses and communities. Last year’s devastating hurricanes and wildfires are still in mind for many. As you read this, wildfires are still burning in California and the Pacific Northwest, while Hawaii recovers from Hurricane Lane and the eruption of Mount Kilauea.

Thus far in 2018 outside of the U.S., we’ve seen flooding in southern India and southwestern Japan; a volcanic eruption in Guatemala; earthquakes in Indonesia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea and Taiwan; and cyclone Josie in Fiji. Each of these events underscores the importance of timely disaster preparedness.

How To Prepare
Of course, you cannot anticipate every natural disaster or humanitarian crisis. But you can make use of expert information to position your family, community or business as safely as possible. In the U.S., click here to learn more about the types of disasters likely to impact your area, and how to prepare for them. Those outside of the U.S. should check with local and national authorities for disaster preparedness guidance.

How You Can Help
The hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters of 2017 forced organizations to re-evaluate how to leverage volunteers after a disaster. In our report, Leading in Times of Need: Disaster volunteering in the modern era, IBM and Points of Light make the case for organizing the disaster volunteer ecosystem – “a collection of organizations and individuals involved in the mobilization, engagement and management of volunteers within the disaster management cycle.”

Everyone has skills that are valuable in times of crisis. Although some disaster relief roles do require special skills, many others do not. Everyday skills such as cooking, cleaning, organizing and care giving are needed desperately after a disaster. With a clear role to play, anyone can help.

  • IBM’s online course, Disaster Volunteering: Learn, Prepare, Engage, covers the basics of disaster volunteering and preparedness.
  • Announced in August 2018, the IBM Disaster Volunteer Corps is a self-service global community of motivated volunteers who share experiences and needs, develop and deploy solutions, and exchange best practices. Active and retired IBMers can subscribe to the “#disaster_volunteers” channel on Slack for the latest information.

How IBM – and IBMers – Contribute
Since 2001, IBM has responded to more than 70 disasters and humanitarian crises around the world. We contribute our technologies and expertise to help communities rebuild and recover. Thus far in 2018, IBM has:

  • Deployed the mobile-enabled Disaster Management Information System (DMIS) to help authorities gather data on missing people, damage, and resource requirements following the worst flooding in Japan in 30 years
  • Begun exploring whether emerging seismometer technology from IBM Research could be an option for future earthquake preparedness in Indonesia
  • Provided the government of Kerala State, India with real-time Weather Company updates of projected rainfall and inundation to assist in relief and resiliency planning following catastrophic flooding

How IBM Enlists Developers
IBM is the founding partner of Call for Code, a multi-year initiative to engage developers in solving disaster relief and other pressing global challenges with sustainable software solutions. For its first year, Call for Code invites developers to create new applications to help communities prepare for and respond to natural disasters. If you have an idea, answer the Call for Code today!

Whatever you do, and wherever you live, be sure to take time this month to learn about disaster preparedness; take steps to protect your family, community or business; and find out how IBM can help you help disaster survivors near you or anywhere around the world.

Rebecca Curzon manages disaster relief efforts for IBM Corporate Citizenship.

Global Humanitarian Response Manager and Senior Program Manager, IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs

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