Emergency Response: A Year-Round Priority

We can’t predict when the next natural disaster, emergency or even health pandemic will arise. However, we know that when disaster does strike, communities who are already disadvantaged are likely to be the most acutely impacted.

For 30 years, Native American Aid (NAA), a PWNA program, has assisted tribal communities on the front lines in response to environmental disasters such as floods, fires, blizzards, drought, tornadoes, and most recently, the global pandemic that continues to devastate Indian Country.

In any disaster, the first 72 hours are the most critical. When lockdowns first began in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19, our warehouses were stocked and ready to distribute emergency supplies to the tribal communities we serve. With the help of our donors and partners last year, we were able to distribute more than 342,000 lbs. of emergency supplies aiding nearly 16,000 Native Americans in some of the most remote, impoverished communities in the Northern Plains.

Darwin Long, a PWNA partner from the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, recalls how the pandemic hit home last summer. Their community struggled to access cleaning supplies, hygiene products and other basic items needed to keep spread of the virus at bay. PWNA was able to respond to their needs on a moment’s notice.

While the COVID-19 vaccine is finally helping, the effects of the virus on the reservations are far from over. As Darwin shared, “everyone has been impacted, some families have been decimated and the need is still very real.” Even as we hope the end of the pandemic is in sight, PWNA continues to receive high volumes of requests for toiletries, cleaning supplies, water and non-perishable food and water.

We’re still preparing for the next disaster too – although unpredictable, it is a real threat likely to come from summer heat waves, droughts and brush fires. Our supplies are extremely limited though, so we’re hoping for the support of our generous donors and funders to help us replenish our warehouses and distribute another 350,000 lbs. of supplies to the communities we serve this year.

Do you want to know how can you help? Tell your friends and family about the realities of emergency disasters on reservations and how the COVID-19 pandemic is putting even more stress on these communities. Support Native American families by buying Native-made or Native-sold goods and services. Read more about how nutrition impacts the health of Native American communities at www.nativepartnership.org/foodnews5.

For more information or to donate to NAA, visit our website.

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