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When Disaster Strikes

Help Haiti and Prepare Yourself

The recent catastrophic earthquake in Haiti and the smaller temblors in the Bay Area serve as reminders that disaster can strike at any moment. Here are a few ways to contribute to rescue efforts in Haiti as well as to prepare yourself for future quakes.

Help Haiti
Street Food For a Cause, Saturday, January 23rd: San Francisco street food vendors Evil Jerk Cart, Lumpia Cart, Shanghai Guy, Bike Basket Pies, Toasty Melts, Wholesome Bakery, and Adobo Hobo converge at Milk Bar in the Upper Haight for a bash to raise money for UNICEF. Music will be provided by local DJs, including Mr. E of Papalote.

San Francisco Hearts Haiti, January 27th: The Independent is hosting a Haiti Relief Fundraiser. One hundred percent of net proceeds from the $10 general admission fee and any donations made at the door go to Haiti relief. J-Boogie, Sils and Non Stop Bhangra are a few of the artists on the bill.

Prepare Yourself

As evidenced by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, one can’t rely on municipal infrastructure (or lack thereof) and government for immediate salvation. But there are many things we can do to prepare for disasters. is a great resource to start with; here are some tips from the site:

1. Make a Plan

As emergency response services won’t be able to respond to everyone who needs help, the premise of is that you need to “plan to be on your own for at least the first 72 hours.”

Communication: Designate an out-of-area contact person — preferably someone out of state to be your communications hub. Give this person the names and contact info for your close friends and family in the area. When disaster strikes, have these friends and family members call your hub for status updates. According to, long-distance phone service is often restored sooner than local service.

Document control: Keep duplicate copies of important documents such as passports, drivers licenses, social security cards, wills, financial statements, insurance information, prescriptions, etc. in a safety deposit box or with someone you trust, outside of your residence. That way if your documents get destroyed you’ll have less scrambling to do. Keep a written and graphic inventory of your valuables with these documents.

Evacuation readiness: Make sure everyone in your household knows the best escape routes from your home and establish meeting places: one just outside your home and one outside your neighborhood in case you are mandated to evacuate.

2. Build A Master Emergency Kit

Nourishment: Water and food are a no-brainer — one gallon per person per day (don’t forget your pets!), less perishable foods requiring minimal water, non-electric can opener.

All other supplies can be procured from your local drugstore and hardware stores. A disaster kit is really about necessity. I prefer Kaplan’s on Market Street, which carries a bunch of affordable no-frills camping supplies, and Discount Builders Supply on Mission for tools and tarps.

In addition to a master kit, 72hours suggests each person have a “Go-bag” ready to bring with you in case of evacuation. A kit should be made for each person and pet, with identification, first aid supplies, extra keys, batteries, flashlights, sturdy shoes and warm clothing — basically everything you might need for a backpacking trip.

Prepare yourself, and try to support local businesses while procuring the necessary supplies.