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Community Newsletter

Community Newsletter: Helping children cope after a disaster

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Racine County Emergency Management

In 1983, the Milwaukee Journal’s Green Sheet’s longtime advice columnist, Ione Quinby Griggs, fielded a question from a mother distraught because someone knocked down her 3-year-old’s snowman. Griggs advised that “Children are resilient and may soon forget if an incident isn’t kept alive by others.” While that sounds great on paper, we have learned that when it comes to trauma, children are not as resilient as we thought.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children have unique physical and emotional needs when a disaster strikes. In addition to being placed at an increased risk of physical harm, children respond to illness, injury, and treatment differently than adults do. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, children need a semblance of normalcy that comes from maintaining a normal routine and the stability of familiar surroundings. In times of crisis, this is often difficult to maintain so we must do everything we can to address that.

There are three main priorities for helping children return to their normal routine and education:

  • Provision of temporary housing, schools, and child care facilities where needed.
  • Restoration of the child infrastructure in place in the community prior to the disaster.
  • Provision of mental health services for children and caregivers as they recover from the disaster.

Locally, there are groups like Faith, Hope & Love that understand this. Faith, Hope & Love provides support for children in crisis by providing Duffels for Kids, BlastPacks, and New Beginnings programs. We’ve begun talking with this organization and look forward to looking at ways that they, along with other groups in Racine, could help children during times of disaster.

COOP/COG planning

Recently we hosted the Continuity of Government Operations Planning for Rural Communities course sponsored by the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium. We had more than 50 participants who spent the day learning how to develop plans which would ensure the continuity of essential government functions across a spectrum of emergencies with a special focus on succession planning, delegation of authority, redundant communications, and alternate facilities. In the business world it would be referred to as Business Recovery or Continuity Planning.

Continuity of Operations/Continuity of Government (COOP/GOG) Plans could be initiated if a pandemic flu resulted in a large percentage of the workforce being unavailable or a building was lost due to a tornado, flood, fire or chemical spill. By planning ahead of time, departments can ensure that they will still deliver essential services to the community we serve.

Over the next several months, each county department will look at their operations and identify those essential functions which must be maintained immediately, as well as identify alternate locations to operate out of if there is a need.

Top 10 threats to business

Speaking of COOP/COG planning, this year’s global top 10 threats to business continuity are:

1. Cyberattack.

2. Data breach (up one from last year).

3. Unplanned IT & telecom outages (down one from last year).

4. Act of terrorism (up five from last year).

5. Security incident (up one from last year).

6. Interruption to utility supply (down two from last year).

7. Supply chain disruption (down two from last year).

8. Adverse weather (down one from last year).

9. Availability of key skills (new entry).

10. Health and safety incident (new entry).


Racine County will soon be able to issue alerts through IPAWS. IPAWS provides public safety officials with an effective way to alert and warn the public about serious emergencies using the Emergency Alert System (EAS), Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio, and other public alerting systems from a single interface. This will be a great tool in the event that we have to inform the public about an emergency or crisis situation.

Storm spotter seminar

Well, Sunny, the Racine Zoo’s groundhog, did not see his shadow this year so spring is on its way. That means it’s time for our annual Severe Weather and Tornado Spotter Seminar, which will be held on from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, at the iMET Center, 2320 Renaissance Blvd., Sturtevant. The seminar will feature Tim Halbach, National Weather Service Warning coordination meteorologist.

The National Weather Service needs reports of tornadoes, flash flooding, wind damage and hail size to effectively warn the public of inclement weather. Storm spotter volunteers provide ground truth to what National Weather Service meteorologists interpret on radar. This SKYWARN storm spotting class goes through what spotters need to report, when to report, and how to report severe weather information. The free two-hour class also features visual descriptions of severe weather that spotters may encounter while observing.

There is no cost to attend this seminar. However, registration is required. For reservations, go


Recently a colleague was looking for some great disaster-related songs she could crank in the Emergency Operations Center during late, all-night sessions. We’ve been having some fun identifying disaster and crisis management related songs. Well, at least we looked at songs with titles that made us think of disasters. Here’s a few more to add to your playlist:

  • “Fire” by Ohio Players
  • “Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix
  • “Shake” by Mercy Me
  • “Thunder on the Mountain” by Bob Dylan
  • “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” by The Gap Band

75th community newsletter column

If my calculations are correct, this is the 75th Community Newsletter column that I have written since 1999. I would like to thank The Journal Times for making this available to community groups in Racine.


If you have not done so, “like” us on Facebook. We regularly post useful information and tips, along with information about severe weather. You can find us at In addition, check out our website at

Until next time, stay safe.


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