Honoré Charges a Lack of Preparedness in America
Straightforward, aggressive and audacious, Lt. General Honoré was unequivocal in his address to emergency managers attending the midday session of the final day of the International Disaster Conference & Exposition: no matter where you live, you need to be prepared for a disaster.
Honoré, who led the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Task Force to restore order in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina, boldly stated his message that the culture of America needs changing to one of preparedness. That message has been Honore´’s crusade since his 2008 retirement from 37 years of service with the U.S. Army, the substance of his speaking engagements, and subject of his book, Building a Culture of Preparedness.
In bare-knuckle style, Honoré recounted several U.S. disasters and barked at businesses from gas stations to hospitals for not being prepared with the likes of generators to restore power following a disaster, reminding them, “You are part of the resiliency of your community.” He chastised organizations from governments to schools for being unprepared to care for their citizens and themselves in the event of a catastrophic occurrence.
He defined disaster as being outside the scope of a local government to handle, and he noted that the government’s job during a disaster was to, “take care of the vulnerable population – the elderly the disabled, the poor.
“Eighty percent of the people evacuated for Katrina,” he noted. “It was the vulnerable people who were left behind.”
He pressed his contention that every citizen should be prepared with such items as a survival pack with food, water and cash, and a weather radio, and such skills as the ability to swim, which he noted, allowed hundreds to be rescued during the darkest hours of Katrina. He suggested we learn and then teach family members to text as a means for critical communication during a disaster. And he proposed that despite concerns for privacy, DNA information should be gathered on all citizens so that critical services like healthcare and reuniting families can be accomplished during disaster recovery efforts.
“There’s no safe place,” he warned. ‘We need to create a culture of preparedness in America.”