How Prepared for Earthquakes is the LGBT Community?
In the Bay Area, Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters (CARD) is making strides to get the LGBT community earthquake ready.
CARD was created in response to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, when several non-profit community support groups bonded together to try to fill in the gaps left by Federal and State preparedness campaigns. The organization helps non-profits who deal with vulnerable populations and does outreach at the community level to provide training and education in emergency preparedness. They also have a great collection of disaster posters you can download on their website for free.
CARD recently began to reach out to and prepare the LGBT community for earthquakes and other disasters. The CARD LGBT Community outreach effort is a new program that started just 10 months ago. Jimmy Nguyen, CARD’s charming Community Educator, is the man responsible for helping them reach out to the LGBT community.
We had a chance to catch up with Jimmy and hear directly from him how CARD is helping the LGBT community become better prepared for earthquakes.
TU: Tell us what you do?
Jimmy: Most of the emergency preparedness courses and guides in our community are focused on the heterosexual majority. One population that is often neglected is the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community. Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters, which we call “CARD” took on this challenge and created a curriculum in emergency preparedness that is specific to the LGBT community. I am CARD’s LGBT Community Educator, and have been working on this for the past 10 months allowing CARD to launch their new and improved curriculum.
TU: What are the unique needs of the LGBT community for disaster preparedness?
Jimmy: There are many issues that arise for the LGBT community during a disaster that people rarely consider. Issues such as having proper legal documentation to make medical decisions for your partner if he/she is incapacitated, making sure agencies have “family/unisex” restrooms for the transgender community are just some of the things that agencies and individuals can do to get prepared.
TU: Understanding that preparedness is a state of mind, what’s the most recent act of preparation you did?
Jimmy: Preparedness is all about getting past this phase of fear and denial. Even the simplest things can make HUGE differences after a disaster. I recently started carrying cash in my phone case. With ATMs popping up on every corner, many people don’t find it necessary to carry cash. This presents a problem in a disaster because ATM machines may no longer work. This issue becomes amplified within the LGBT community because stigma and discrimination can make it harder for an individual to receive help.
TU: Understanding that we are all part of a community, when you think about surviving a disaster, who’s the first person you think about taking care of after yourself?
Jimmy: As the LGBT Community Educator at CARD, I do not necessarily think about one person but a whole “vulnerable population.” At CARD, we are a big supporter of social media because this is the fastest and easiest way to get information out into the community. It is my job, immediately after a disaster, to make sure the LGBT community has access to the resources and information they need.
TU: What’s your favorite local charity (besides CARD)?
Jimmy: Eden I&R would be my next favorite local charity because they provide free information to the public that is easily accessible and helps to build a stronger community.
TU: What’s the last disaster you survived?
Jimmy: At CARD, we believe in working together as a community. This means that when one part of our community is affected by a disaster, the ENTIRE community becomes affected by the disaster. While Hurricane Katrina did not directly impact me, I believe we all learned valuable information and survived it together as a country. The lack of order and structure during the response phases has definitely opened up our community’s eyes.
TU: Who is CARD and why is this organization taking on this project?
Jimmy: CARD is a nonprofit agency, based in Oakland California. CARD was created by local nonprofit agencies to address the preparedness and response needs of service providers — whose consumers are among the most vulnerable people in any community. The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake demonstrated what is now familiar: that despite great effort and billions of dollars invested, traditional disaster response agencies simply cannot address all of the emergency preparedness, planning and response needs of our increasingly diverse community. In the aftermath of that earthquake, nonprofits and community agencies across the Bay Area came together to address the preparedness, response and recovery needs of their consumers and other vulnerable residents. Together, they formed CARD. We lead and champion the “Use NO Fear” preparedness movement and actively seek to end the use of fear and threat of disasters as the “motivation” for emergency preparedness. We have instead created and embraced a “Prepare to Prosper” curriculum and philosophy. CARD programs reflect, respect and support the realities, interests, roles and goals of nonprofits, service agencies and faith groups. CARD works to include all people in preparedness, planning and disaster response, creating a world in which you and your loved ones can be safe anywhere you go. CARD works to fulfill this vision with government entities, community agencies and committed private sector partners.
For more information please visit them at www.CARDcanhelp.org or email Jimmy at Jimmy@CARDcanhelp.org.