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A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness

In Book, Katrina Task Force’s Gen. Honore Urges U.S. To Move Towards “Culture Of Preparedness”; In Interview, He Says Americans Are Victims Of Our Own Resources When It Comes To Disaster Readiness

September 9th, 2009 · No Comments

The most high profile American associated with citizen preparedness may be Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Russel L. Honore who came to national prominence for his work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In the four years since, Honore has been an outspoken advocate for focusing more national attention and resources on community readiness. In a new book, Survival: How A Culture of Preparedness Can Save You and Your Family (Atria), he offers some ideas on what to do and how to get there.

The book (written with Ron Martz) uses Honore’s life experiences, particularly his work as commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, to help illustrate what he believes is necessary to improve the nation’s ability to deal with disasters of all kinds.


Among his proposals: disaster preparedness should be taught in elementary and middle schools; insurance companies should give weather radios to their customers or provide a rate break for those families that have them in their homes; weather radios should also be required, just as smoke alarms are, in rental properties; Red Cross debit cards should be issued to poor people in areas frequently hit by extreme weather; National Preparedness Month should be in May not September; and a National Preparedness Plan should be developed.

In a recent interview, Honore told me that the nation must put as much focus into disaster preparedness as it does to disaster response. He noted that ironically America’s resources, including the expectation that FEMA and other responders will always come to the rescue, gets in the way of its preparedness efforts. He recounted a recent visit to Cuba which has an extensive citizen readiness system, including regular hurricane drills, inspections by trained high school students and extensive pre-storm mitigation (ie. moving refrigerators and stoves from potential flooded areas): “They are a poor country.  They can’t replace them.”

But he said that he feels there is movement in the direction towards creating that culture of preparedness in the U.S.. He cites FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate frequent public statements on the topic and another interesting metric. “It used to be when you googled disaster preparedness there were 30,000 hits, now you get several million.” Honore is currently an analyst for CNN and frequently gives speeches around the U.S. (more often than not on citizen preparedness). To purchase Survival, click here.

Lt. General Russel Honore speaks to residents and members of the media during the ringing of the bells ceremony signifying the series of levee breaches that occurred throughout the city on the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 29, 2007.

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