Storm surge hits a small tree as winds from Hurricane Sandy reach Seaside Park in Bridgeport, Conn., Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Water from Long Island Sound spilled into roadways and towns along the Connecticut shoreline Monday, the first signs of flooding from a storm that threatens to deliver a devastating surge of seawater. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Most states do not meet basic child-safety measures a national commission endorsed after Hurricane Katrina, according to a report the Westport-based Save the Children released on Wednesday.
“Since we released our last report card, our nation has experienced the second costliest disaster year on record and hundreds of thousands of children have faced enormous risks. They’ve lost their homes, schools, child care centers and even their lives,” Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children, said in a news release.
“The devastation left by Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac, the Oklahoma tornadoes and the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School should be a wake-up call, but too many states won’t budge. It’s like they’re stuck in a pre-Katrina world where the gaps in protecting children weren’t so clear,” Miles said.
The presidentially-appointed National Commission on Children and Disaster, led by Save the Children, recommended minimum standards to protect children after Hurricane Katrina and the disaster report card tracks progress on standards that states require all child care centers to have an evacuation plan, a family reunification plan, a plan for children with special needs, and that states require all schools to have disaster plans that account for several types of hazards.
Connecticut is one of 22 states to meet all four standards.
The report “Unaccounted For: A National Report Card on Protecting Children in Disaster,” outlines gaps in emergency preparedness, response and recovery, underscored by a remarkable year of domestic disaster and Save the Children is calling on Americans to urge their governors to either meet the report card standards or make sure child-focused emergency plans are in place and practiced once required.
Robbie and Alissa Parker’s 6-year-old daughter Emilie was killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and said they do not want anyone else to go through what they went through.
In an interview with save the Children, they said parents need to be aware of what their children’s schools plans are in the case of emergency.
“We want you to remember that there are things that you can do instead of being in this position that we are in,” Alissa Parker said.
“If nothing changes out of this, then something is wrong,” Jennifer Stoltz, a Sandy Hook parent, said.
Save the Children is also launching a new preparedness initiative called “Get Ready. Get Safe.” to help families and communities protect children at times of disaster.
It calls upon families to send a letter to the governor requesting that more be done to protect children during disasters, to learn the questions to ask and find out if your child’s school or care center has a strong emergency plan ready, to get a family checklist for the home and support efforts to protect children before, during and after emergencies.