what happens to children after a hurricane

Life After a Hurricane: How Save the Children Supports Children and Families During Disasters and their Aftermath

Before Hurricane Florence hit, save the Children deployed our emergency response team and pre-positioned essential child-focused supplies designed to help vulnerable children during disasters and their aftermath. Our teams are committed to supporting the children and families in their long-term recovery, as the emotional distress of evacuating home and being out of school can take its toll on children. 

As the roads in North Carolina re-open after Hurricane Florence, our humanitarian relief experts continue to assess the storm’s impact on children and provide assistance to those in shelters – even reaching New Bern which saw record flooding. We continue to work tirelessly to address the needs of thousands of families who were forced to evacuate their homes, fearing the worst.

In post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans in 2005, Save the Children developed Journey of Hope, a child-informed program that draws on children’s strengths to support their resilience. Journey of Hope has helped thousands of children and their caregivers affected by the 2017 hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico cope with loss, fear and stress. Here is the story of one such family. 

After Hurricane Harvey, fifty-four counties in Texas were declared a state of disaster. Rainfall was measured in feet. Two more devastating U.S. hurricanes would follow, all within a month of one another. Each of them leaving children and families reeling. Families like Alexia and her son DeAndre. 

As Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston, Alexia and her 10-year-old son, DeAndre, watched the water levels rise and cover the floors in their apartment. When the bathroom ceiling caved in, Alexia knew they needed to go, but she worried about her son being stuck in a shelter without the space to be a kid.

At the shelter, Alexia brought DeAndre to our child-friendly space, where he soon made friends, played games, created art and went on field trips. Alexia says this allowed him to disconnect from the stress of the storm and gave her peace of mind knowing that he was safe and happy. Our staff stood by Alexia as she made arrangements to get out of the shelter and helped her ask the right questions to ensure they weren’t forgotten.

And one year post-Harvey, DeAndre unlocks the door to their new, fully furnished apartment. He has his own room and a playground around the corner. “If it wasn’t for Save the Children, we wouldn’t be in an apartment. We would probably be either moved around to a different place from the shelter or we would be out on the street,” says Alexia.

With your support, 261,170 children and adults from the Texas coast to the greater Houston area have directly or indirectly benefited from our relief and recovery programs.1  Additionally, nearly 39,000 children and adults from the Florida Keys to Jacksonville impacted by Hurricane Irma have directly and indirectly benefited from Save the Children-supported programs made possible through the generosity of our donors.2  In Puerto Rico, more than 116,000 children and adults have benefited from our Hurricane Maria relief and recovery programs.3 

Today, more than 1 million people in coastal areas of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina have been ordered to evacuate their homes as Hurricane Florence pounds the coast. How many children and families will watch the water levels rise and cover the floors the way Alexia and DeAndre did when a hurricane struck their home? 

Save the Children needs your generous gift to help protect vulnerable children and provide desperately needed relief to families.

DONATE NOW TO THE HURRICANE FLORENCE CHILDREN’S RELIEF FUND

 

1. Hurricane Harvey: One-Year Report 

2. Hurricane Irma: One-Year Report 

3. Hurricane Maria: One-Year Report 

Typhoon Mangkhut approaches Philippines

The Philippines Braces for Super Typhoon Mangkhut: 3 Things You Need to Know

The Philippines is prone to deadly natural disasters

Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines on November 8, 2013. It was one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, killing 6,000 people and leaving millions homeless.1   

With vivid memories of the havoc wreaked just over a year ago, Typhoon Hagupit struck the Philippines in 2014. While Hagupit roared in from the Pacific as a Category 3 typhoon, it did not prove as deadly as Haiyan. 

The two years after Typhoon Hagupit brought with them additional storms. Typhoon Koppu in 2015 and Typhoon Haima in 2016. 

Save the Children responded to all four typhoons, supporting the rebuilding of homes and livelihoods of over 1 million people, including 826,000 children.

Super Typhoon Mangkhut could be a category 4 storm

While the slow moving typhoon strengthened to category 5 status on Wednesday, with sustained winds of up to about 180 miles per hour, current modelling has the storm making landfall as a category 4 typhoon on Saturday morning. Super Typhoon Mangkhut looks set to pummel coastal communities in the Filipino island of Luzon, the country’s most populous island and home nation’s capitol of Manila. 

In 2016, Typhoon Haima weakened from a category 5 storm to category 4 just before making landfall, tens of thousands of homes and displacing more than 90,000 people in Luzon.

Millions of children are at risk

Heavy rains, flooding and landslides could put million of already vulnerable children at risk.

Save the Children has emergency team deployed to Santiago, Luzon with pre-position relief items positioned across the country, including thousands of household, hygiene and back-to-school kits. 

“We are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst, Save the Children Philippines CEO Alberto Muyot said. “Once the storm passes, our team will work with local authorities and other aid agencies to assess the scale of devastation caused by the typhoon and determine what the needs are of those affected.” 

 

1. Save the Children 

My Journey of Hope – One Year After Hurricane Maria

One year after Hurricane Maria

Written by Angelica Cadavid | Photograph by Gary Shaye

When I arrived in Puerto Rico, I didn’t know what to expect. Almost a year after Hurricane Maria, I wondered what I would see. Would my mother’s beloved island still show the scars of the devastation that roared upon its shores on September 20, 2017? What about the children?

What I saw was heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time. The physical signs of Hurricane Maria were everywhere. I kept telling my non-Puerto Rico based colleagues that the island didn’t look like this before the storm. Everywhere were the markers of what were once family homes and local businesses, now in ruins. One girl I spoke with told me the hurricane blew the roof off her home. What was equally traumatic for her family was finding the remnants of other people’s lives that the storm had blown into their house, things like shoes and other personal items.

While many of the children and families that I spoke with painted a picture of loss, our conversations also turned hopeful. Communities like Fronton and Mulitas were coming together to support one another, especially the children. An abandoned basketball court is now a beautiful community center. It’s a place where children can play in a safe, protected environment, make up for lost school days, and heal from the trauma of loss and fear caused by the storm.  One young boy told me he was afraid and angry after the hurricane but now he feels protected after participating in our Journey of Hope program.

Families told me how much the programs meant to them, but until I saw our community activities in action, I had no idea. I wish every Save the Children supporter could see the joy on the children’s faces. Even those kids that had started the day a bit sullen were soon laughing and playing. 

Almost one year after Hurricane Maria, there is still so much need on the island. It took 10 months for the community of Mariana to get electricity. But Puerto Ricans are resilient and with help and the continued dedication of Save the Children staff, local leaders, parents and supporters – Puerto Rico si se levanta (Puerto Rico will rise up).

To learn more about Save the Children’s emergency responses and ongoing recovery work in Puerto Rico, visit our website.

YOUR SUPPORT CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES IN NEED. MAKE A DONATION TO THE HURRICANE MARIA CHILDREN’S RELIEF FUND TODAY!

 

Preparing for Hurricane Florence

More than 1 million people in coastal areas of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina have been ordered to evacuate their homes as Hurricane Florence, anticipated to be a Category 5 storm by the time it makes landfall, continues towards shore. 

All along the coast, concerned residents are taking necessary emergency preparedness precautions and springing into action – boarding up their homes, filling their fuel tanks with gas and heading towards safety. However, families with young children need take additional steps around hurricane preparedness, including providing children with understanding and control around the emergency. As the national leader for children in emergencies, Save the Children is here to help. 

Talk about Hurricane Florence
Preparing young children for a hurricane emergency can start with letting them know that it’s alright to be afraid in disaster situations. Explain to your child what may happen once Hurricane Florence makes landfall using simple, age-appropriate words. Reassure your children that during Hurricane Florence, many caring adults — including parents, teachers and first responders — will be working to keep them safe. 

Identify Evacuation Routes
If you are among the 1 million people ordered to evacuate the coastal areas in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, reassure your children that you have identified the best evacuation routes and review the route together. 

Pack an Emergency Go-To Bag
The process of putting together an emergency go-to bag will help children understand what could happen during and after Hurricane Florence. For example, a flash light and non-perishable food are essential emergency go-to bag items that will come in handy should the power go out. A few favorite toys, medicine and personal hygiene items are also important to have in an emergency go-to bag should your family be away from home for a few days or more. 

Make Emergency Contact Cards
Every child in your family should have an emergency contact card that includes three emergency contacts any first responder or caregiver can reach out to, in case your family is separated during the Hurricane Florence. Save the Children has an easy tool that allows families to create an Emergency Contact Card together.

Save the Children is closely monitoring Hurricane Florence and is assembling a team in North Carolina to help children and families bracing for the powerful storm. With your support, our caring professionals are prepared to help vulnerable children during and after the storm. 

 

To learn more about Save the Children’s emergency responses and ongoing recovery work, visit our website.

YOUR SUPPORT CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE. MAKE A DONATION TODAY TO SUPPORT THE HURRICANE FLORENCE CHILDREN’S EMERGENCY RELIEF FUND.

What 2017 Taught Us About Hurricane Safety | Save the Children

What 2017 Taught Us About Hurricane Safety

It’s been a year since Hurricane Harvey tore through Texas. Hurricane Harvey’s destructive winds and historic floods displaced more than 1 million people and damaged over 200,000 homes. It was the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in over 50 years.1

Soon after Harvey hit, a pair of Category 4 hurricanes emerged from the Atlantic. After tearing its way across a string of Caribbean islands and up through Florida, Hurricane Irma left behind a trail of devastation – with more than 4 million children at risk.2 Families were left without power and without access to clean water. Many were coping with the loss of homes while damage to schools and child care programs left children out of school.

What 2017 Taught Us About Hurricane Safety | Save the Children
A family in the La Perla neighborhood, just outside the walls of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, are coping with the realities of life and loss after Hurricane Maria.

Days later, Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico and quickly became the largest disaster to affect the island since 1928. Children and families were left without electricity, drinking water, food and fuel. Nearly 15,000 people were living in shelters and all 1,113 public schools were closed.3

Save the Children has been on the ground in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico since early days of the response and is committed to helping children and families recover through restoration of early education services, social emotional support and emergency preparedness programming. We are committed to preparing and protecting the most vulnerable among us during disaster – children – through effective preparedness, response and recovery.

Learning from Disasters

In an era when disasters are growing in frequency and impact4, we must be at the ready to meet the specific needs of children and families when the next disaster strikes. Save the Children knows that children are most vulnerable in disasters, with unique needs that require specific and purposeful planning to keep them from harm.5  But how do you prepare for a hurricane?

Being aware of where evacuation routes are and staying informed about weather conditions can save lives. Additionally, it’s important to develop a family plan that details where emergency shelters are located, how to get to your meet-up location if your family is separated and who to designate as your family contact person can help you stay all safe. More tips, including how to develop a family communication strategy are outlined in Save the Children’s Disaster Checklist for Parents.

Living with Hardships

Disasters like Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria don’t simply destroy homes, they can devastate entire communities. Flood-damaged schools are rendered unsafe for children, businesses face foreclosures, and healthcare services may disappear. Contaminated water and air pollution lay the foundation for chronic disease.

In the earliest days of the crisis, we deployed our child-friendly spaces program to provide safe and protective play areas for children at seven evacuation shelters throughout Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. In coordination with partners, we distributed tens of thousands of infant, toddler, and child-centric materials, including portable cribs, hygiene kits, strollers, diapers, infant wash basins, and more.

We’re continuing to provide emotional support to children dealing with stress and uncertainty. Plus, our education teams are working with local partners to restore programs and help ensure that children have access to learning.

What 2017 Taught Us About Hurricane Safety | Save the Children
Inside the safety of the Child Friendly Space, children have an opportunity to read, play and begin to recover from the trauma they have experienced as a result of Hurricane Maria.

Investing in the Future

2017 was an unprecedented year for hurricanes in America. Save the Children is committed to the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria and our Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico teams will continue to support recovery efforts in all three areas through 2019 at a minimum.

In addition to building back better and increasing educational opportunities for children, Save the Children continues to offer our Journey of Hope resilience program for children, parents and caregivers as well as leading preparedness programs to help children, schools and communities better prepare for the next disaster.

To learn more about Save the Children’s emergency responses and ongoing recovery work, visit our website.

YOUR SUPPORT CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE. MAKE A DONATION TODAY TO SUPPORT OUR CHILDREN’S EMERGENCY RELIEF FUND.

 

Hurricane Harvey Six Month Report

Hurricane Irma Six Month Report

Hurricane Maria Six Month Report

Leaning, J., and Guha-Sapir, D. “Natural Disasters, Armed Conflict, and Public Health.” New England Journal of Medicine. 369:19. (2013). pp. 1936-1842. See also: Cumming-Bruce, N. “U.N. Disaster Chief Warns of More Natural Catastrophes to Come.” The New York Times. 23 Dec. 2014, 23 November 2015.

Emergency Preparedness: Why It Matters To You

Can the Natural Curiosity of Children Help Build Community Emergency Preparedness?

“Kids love to learn,” says Save the Children’s Sarah Thompson, Director of U.S. Emergencies. “They love to bring home what they learn.” That can make children great safety and preparedness advocates if they are introduced to emergency preparedness exercises and information. “Part of what makes kids unique is actually what makes them the most powerful.

As the start of hurricane season surrounds us, Thompson’s words, as captured in a recent FEMA PrepTalk, “Youth: The Key to Building a Culture of Preparedness,” highlight how children are great mobilizers, actors, and connectors within their communities for building a culture of preparedness.

Currently, less than half of American families have an emergency plan, leaving children vulnerable when disaster strikes. Through youth preparedness education programs, children learn about how to develop an emergency plan, including how to ensemble an emergency go-to bag, and what their school’s evacuation plan is in an emergency. These exercises can help reduce the perceived fear surrounding emergencies because it gives them more understanding and control.

emergency preparedness exercises and information
Save the Children’s Prep Rally is an emergency preparedness program for children grades K-5. Maribel fills out a short quiz before participating in a Prep Rally at her summer camp program in Florida. 

Often, educators and parents think discussing risks and hazards with children may be too scary for them. The truth is – teaching children basic preparedness skills and letting them know that it’s alright to be afraid in disaster situations makes them better prepared to handle those disasters. 1

“Kids like to be part of the plan,” says Thompson. “They want to help. They want to be useful. That means they can be good emergency actors and safety advocates. When their safety is at risk, they want to do something about it. When we teach kids emergency preparedness skills, they are better equipped to respond to a disaster and they are better equipped to cope with a disaster.”

Save the Children’s Prep Rally provide a fun ways for kids to participate in disaster preparedness.

emergency preparedness exercises and information

Save the Children also launched a partnership with the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Earth Institute to raise the visibility and inclusion of child-serving institutions like summer camps, public, private and charter schools, foster care agencies and, of course, early childhood programs, in community-wide emergency planning. This work has culminated in the launch of the Resilient Children Resilient Communities (RCRC) Toolbox, a set of resources designed to help communities plan for and better protect their youngest residents.

Children’s books provide a valuable resource as well, as kids can learn about and prepare for disasters through reading. For example, Clifford and the Big Storm by Norman Bridwell is a children’s book that puts everyone’s favorite big, red dog in the path of a hurricane and at the ready to assist when disaster strikes.

Save the Children’s Pep Rally Guide contains a list of additional children’s book titles about disasters that may can help build children’s resilience and ability to cope with crisis.

“Children are a great community link,” says Thompson. “Children are the bellwethers of resilience. After a disaster, how quickly children can cope and recover is a very good indication of how the overall community recovers.”

Save the Children’s Prep Rally curriculum was awarded the 2017 FEMA Community Preparedness Award.

For more information about Save the Children’s Emergency Response programs, visit our website.

1. PrepTalks Discussion Guide – Youth Preparedness

ADDRESSING THE ROOT CAUSES OF MIGRATION FROM CENTRAL AMERICA

Addressing the Root Causes of Migration from Central America

Save the Children is taking action to assist children and families affected by U.S. immigration policy in recent months, and to strengthen our work to address the root causes of migration from Central America. Bringing decades of humanitarian expertise, we seek to sustain and strengthen our ongoing work in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, where pervasive and often ruthless violence has families living in fear for their lives and safety.

Save the Children has a strong presence and longstanding child- and youth-focused programs in the countries of origin for the majority of migrating children, adolescents and families, and in Mexico, which is both a source and transit country. We have used our presence and expertise to launch humanitarian programs to protect children, address the needs of children returning from the U.S. and reduce violence.

We seek to prevent dangerous and forced migration through activities such as awareness campaigns on the risks and rights associated with migration and programs related to youth empowerment, jobs training and family livelihoods.

We also strengthen national protection systems to care for children and adolescents in their home communities, as well as during transit and return, including family reunification, so that they can access their rights to dignity, protection and security.

Recent examples of our work include:

  • Pilot projects to interrupt the cycle of gang violence in El Salvador and to create “Schools of Peace” at 70 schools in Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.
  • A collaboration among Save the Children, the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation, the Secretary of Social Development and the German Cooperation Development group to prevent the migration of unaccompanied children from targeted communities by enhancing their livelihoods and life skills opportunities.
  • Advocating for violence reduction at the community and government levels in Honduras and Guatemala.
  • Preventing trafficking and smuggling of women and youth at risk or victims of human trafficking in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
  • Improving protection systems for children who have been displaced and/or returned to El Salvador and Honduras after migration.
  • Providing sexual and reproductive health services to returning adolescents in El Salvador and Guatemala.
  • Working to ensure that children in border shelters in Mexico are being protected from harm and have access to psychological and emotional support activities.
ADDRESSING THE ROOT CAUSES OF MIGRATION FROM CENTRAL AMERICA
Estrella*, 16, is a local young leader involved in ECP peace-building workshops in the school near to Las Canoas, Guatemala

Save the Children is the national leader in child-focused disaster preparedness, response and recovery. We have over 80 years’ experience serving the needs of U.S. children and have well-trained national staff ready to deploy anywhere at a moment’s notice to assess needs, help protect children and provide critical relief. We are a partner of the Red Cross and a member of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters.

We are also one of the few organizations in Central America with longstanding programs primarily focused on children and adolescents in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico. Each year, we reach 2.8 million children in these countries with protection, health and education programs.

Save the Children was founded in 1919 on the pioneering belief that every last child has the right to survive, learn and be protected. Today, we continue this work, advocating for children facing inhumane treatment and potential irreparable harm at the U.S.-Mexico borderThrough all of the complexities of this crisis, one thing is clear and simple: we can and must do more to protect children and keep families together.

To learn more about the work Save the Children has done in Guatemala to protect children so they are safe in their home communities, read our photo-essay on Medium.

YOUR SUPPORT CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE. MAKE A DONATION TODAY TO SUPPORT OUR BORDER CRISIS CHILDREN’S RELIEF FUND.

How to Help Children in Crisis at the U.S.-Mexico Border

Save the Children was founded in 1919 on the pioneering belief that every last child has the right to survive, learn and be protected. Today, we continue this work, advocating for children facing inhumane treatment and potential irreparable harm at the U.S.-Mexico border. Through all of the complexities of this crisis, one thing is clear and simple: we can and must do more to protect children and keep families together.

In response to this crisis, Save the Children is announcing new and expanded efforts to support vulnerable children, including supporting programs here in the United States, strengthening family reunification efforts, programming to address root causes in Latin America and continuing to speak out against policies that are harmful to children.

“Children and their families are fleeing unspeakable violence in their home countries and face a long and dangerous journey to the U.S. border, with the hope of a better life. Last year, I met a 13-year-old boy in El Salvador who recounted the story of how his best friend, beaten by a gang because he refused to join, died in his arms. After sharing that heart-wrenching story, he told me his fear: ‘I don’t think I’ll ever grow to be an adult in my country.’ No child should live with this kind of fear, with so little hope for the future,” said Carolyn Miles, President & CEO of Save the Children. “Simply put, our children deserve better.”

Save the Children is calling on all people who care about kids to use your voice and take a stand with Save the Children.

YOUR SUPPORT CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE. MAKE A DONATION TODAY TO SUPPORT OUR BORDER CRISIS CHILDREN’S RELIEF FUND.

ABC News “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” Interviews Carolyn Miles on the U.S. Border Crisis

On Sunday, June 24, CEO and Save the Children President & CEO Carolyn Miles and International Rescue Committee President David Miliband were guests on ABC News “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” On the heels of World Refugee Day, their discussion focused on the treatment of immigrant families at the southern border and the worldwide refugee crisis.

Carolyn Miles spoke to the trauma that separating a child from his or her family inflicts. Her words supported the grave concern Save the Children has for the treatment and well-being of children from Mexico and Central American nations who are in the custody of the United States government after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Top of mind is also the Presidential Executive Order which Save the Children believes simply replaces family separation with indefinite family detention. ‘The trauma that happens to children is very real,” Carolyn Miles explained. “It’s psychological. It’s physical. It’s lasting. You see that what happens to kids when they’re separating from their families in these kind of crisis is something that stays with them.”

Carolyn Miles also shared a personal story of a boy she met while travelling in El Salvador. Working closely with local communities and organizations in El Salvador, Save the Children designs Sponsorship programs to help vulnerable children from early childhood to early adulthood — giving them a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm along the way.

Watch the full segment, visit ABC News “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” and sign Save the Children’s petition telling President Trump that we have ZERO TOLERANCE for policies that do not put children’s interests first.

NEWS8 Interviews Carolyn Miles in Response to the Executive Order Regarding Family Separation

 

In response to the Presidential Executive Order regarding family separation, Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children, issued a statement outlining how the Executive Order is harmful to children. The statement continues to urge the President to do the right thing for children and for Congress to include the policies and recommendations outlined in the Keep Families Together Act in any legislation that is voted on in the House or Senate on this topic.

On June 20, a day recognized as World Refugee Day, NEWS8 interviewed Carolyn Miles, in addition to other Connecticut leaders. In the interview, Carolyn Miles articulated the grave concerns Save the Children has for what’s happening to children at the border, specifically the trauma they endure.

Separating a child from his or her family unnecessarily is inhumane, traumatic and simply put, unacceptable,” read the statement Carolyn Miles issued on June 19, one day prior to the White House executive order was signed. “The cruel act of separation can cause severe negative social and emotional consequences for the children and their families in the days, months and years ahead. Our global evidence shows that children living in institutions away from their families are highly vulnerable to emotional, physical and psychological abuse, which can lead to lasting developmental problems, injuries and trauma.

Save the Children believes the Presidential Executive Order addressing family separation achieves one thing: further harming already vulnerable children. As announced, the Executive Order simply replaces family separation with indefinite family detention – this unconscionable order does not once mention the best interests of children. Save the Children has zero tolerance for policies that do not put children’s interests first.

We know from our nearly 100 years of service that family detention has significant adverse effects on a child’s development and psychosocial well-being, which ultimately results in the loss of childhood.

To read the full statement and to learn how you can take action to tell congress that families belong together, visit Save the Children.