As we wrote recently in a news article, most reporting on Emergency Preparedness seems to focus on either (1) helping individuals get prepared, or (2) building professional service organizations. Very little information is aimed at the very people who are most likely to be there when disaster hits . . .

. . . your neighbors!

It’s easy organizing your family. You just take charge and either do all the packing up of survival kits yourself, or you delegate to another family member. And organizing at the city or state level is easy, too – it just gets written into someone’s job description. When it comes to organizing the neighbors, though, it’s a different story.

You may not even know your neighbors! Worse, you may not particularly WANT to know them!

Broken window
Is someone inside? Neighbors may know; First Responders won’t.

Still, the reality is, when the disaster hits, they are the people who will be on hand to save you. And vice versa.

As you surely know by now, in a real emergency First Responders may not show up for hours or even days. As for the “authorities” (whoever that might be), it may be weeks before they are on the scene. In Hurricane Sandy, neighborhoods that hadn’t been damaged by the storm itself went for weeks without power! And need I even mention the electrical disaster that hit Texas this year – 2021!

So while you’re waiting, you and your family will be dependent on yourselves and your neighbors. If you have taken steps to be sure you are all prepared with basic family emergency supplies, that will be a great start. If you have agreed upon some ways to take the next step, and help each other out, you’ll be a WHOLE lot better off.

Let’s define “neighborhood.”

Every community is different, and deciding who “your neighborhood” is may take some thought. Here are some examples of what we think might make up a neighborhood:

  • The seven homes on a suburban cul de sac
  • Every household in a 20-unit apartment complex
  • One floor of a high-rise apartment building
  • Residents of a mobile home park
  • Members of a Homeowners Association
  • The members of a rural “family compound”

In each case, the natural make-up depends on how many homes there are, and how close together they are. The more tightly they are grouped, the stronger the potential ties. The size of the “neighborhood” probably shouldn’t exceed 50 households in any case – any bigger, and people don’t feel any affiliation with the group.

Do you live in what could be considered a “neighborhood” for disaster planning?

Take the time to examine or create a map to see the most likely configuration. Consider how you would be in touch with these people if you wanted to do some neighborhood organizing. Do you have a local phone directory or reverse directory? Could you send a postcard to each household, or deliver a flyer? Maybe you have a local community website? Defining your neighborhood is step one. Then, it’s on to step two! We address that step in another Advisory, Identifying Leaders.  Start there!