Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Evacuation Stress

It has been three months of shelter life for the people in Japan affected by the earthquake. 98,500 people are homeless and living in 2,000 shelters throughout the country. The shelters are full and are not in the best condition. There is not enough food, toilets, baths, or a quiet place to sleep. There is no air conditioning or heat. CNN reports that, "shelter life has taken a severe psychological toll." It is estimated that it will take 9 months for people to have a place to call home again.

Japan is not the only place being affected by evacuations. Missouri flooding and Arizona wildfires has forced many people to evacuate. People have not been living in shelters for months like the people in Japan, but already the stress is building. Evacuee, Jessie Walker, was interviewed by KNXV News. He said, "What a person don't realized is how hard it is to face something like that. You think you're prepared for it, you think you're mentally prepared for it, physically prepared for it, you're not."

How do you ever prepare for something like this? In Camping vs. Evacuation, there were some ideas about being able to relate to what "evacuation" meant by experiencing camping in a similar way. Take everything and go and see how it turns out. We are still working on this experiment. Some people in Japan have no homes to return to. That kind of evacuation is much different that knowing you are going back home.

Elder Quentin Cook recalled an experience of a pioneer woman evacuating her home in Nauvoo to never return. Sister Bathsheba Smith wrote, “My last act in that precious spot was to tidy the rooms, sweep up the floor and set the broom in its accustomed place behind the door. Then with emotions in my heart I gently closed the door and faced an unknown future, faced it with faith in God and with no less assurance of the ultimate establishment of the Gospel in the West and of its true enduring principles, than I had felt in those trying scenes in Missouri.”

The Red Cross has suggestions for preparing for evacuation ahead of time. There is also a checklist for when evacuation is imminent with some me to prepare and when evacuation must be immediate. Print the complete evacuation Red Cross checklist here.

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