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Progress Continues Three Years After the Tsunami

Tsunami-Affected Communities are Better Prepared for the Future

Three years after the devastating tsunami ravaged more than a dozen countries from Southeast Asia to East Africa, the American Red Cross is still on the ground helping communities recover and rebuild. An important and sometimes overlooked part of recovery is disaster preparedness, the training of communities to be better prepared for future disasters.

"We haven't done our job if we rebuild tsunami-affected communities and don't help people prepare for future emergencies," says Gerald Anderson, senior director of the American Red Cross Tsunami Recovery Program. "Working with our partner Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, we have trained thousands of people how to protect themselves and their communities in the event of another disaster."

Preparedness activities include training local leaders and volunteers through disaster drills, forming rapid response volunteer teams and creating disaster plans, such as evacuation routes, for vulnerable communities. Once the volunteers are trained, they can bring their new knowledge to other communities beyond those affected by the tsunami.

One such example is the 8.4 magnitude earthquake that rocked Bengkulu, Indonesia, on September 12, 2007. The earthquake resulted in few casualties because people knew how to protect themselves.

"I was only thinking of how to get to the hills that time. I kept remembering the Aceh tsunami while we were running away. The Aceh tsunami taught us a lot. It raised our awareness of earthquakes and tsunamis," says Leni Yuliarti, a 20 year-old housewife and mother of a three month old daughter.

Several tsunami-affected countries are located in the most disaster prone areas of the world, making disaster preparedness critical to the health and safety of the region's populations. The American Red Cross has disaster preparedness programs in 160 communities and schools in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand and will be expanding our programs to more than 430 communities.


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