A national bipartisan commission wants to make changes to how local communities treat children during and after disasters. State and federal leaders met today with school officials from Cedar Rapids, Parkersburg, and New Hartford.
The National Commission on Children and Disasters was created by President Bush and Congress in 2007 with the intent of drawing attention to how tragedies affect children. Chairperson Mark Shriver says the 2008 floods and tornadoes in Iowa are examples of how schools and daycare centers should have back-up plans.
He says one simple, low-cost solution includes letting parents know where their children will be relocated when a disaster strikes.“There are more requirements to include dogs and cats in disaster planning then there are requirements for children. This has got to change,” Shriver says.
Shriver says a bill introduced in Congress would require centers with children to come up with disaster plans in order to receive federal funding. He says it’s just “common sense” planning that the government would require.
Commissioner, David Schonfeld says there are no comprehensive national, state, or local plans to help children after a disaster. “Until the rebuilding is completed, until all the schools are back-up and running fully, until housing is restored, until the economy recovers, children and their families will continue to feel some of the stress of that disaster,” Schonfeld says.
Commissioners say disaster-affected Iowa communities such as Parkersburg, New Hartford, and Waverly helped children recover more quickly than in other parts of the country but they say better planning would have led to better results.