National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month and we all are reminded of the importance of taking the time to be prepared before disaster strikes. Whether it’s a flood, an earthquake or a tornado, disasters happen, and preparation is critical in minimizing damage and keeping communities safe.

This is especially true for remote tribal communities. The physical environment on many reservations can give rise to environmental disasters such as floods, forest fires, blizzards, ice storms, and more. Some communities also experience acute or chronic contaminated-water emergencies. In the most geographically-isolated communities, word of disaster travels slowly to, and sometimes never reaches, mainstream news or the general public.

As a first responder, PWNA is quick to get disaster aid to reservations in our 12-state service area, from the Northern Plains to the Southwest. We also evaluate requests from tribes beyond our service area on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, PWNA assists homeless shelters on reservations, along with shelters for the elderly, disabled, veterans, children and others. PWNA’s emergency services benefit tens of thousands of people a year.

As an active member of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), PWNA has access to the most reputable disaster relief and emergency response organizations in the U.S. We also actively participate in state VOAD groups in South Dakota, Montana and Arizona and are an honorary member of the Mountain West VOAD, which serves Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico — states that are home to many of the 60 reservations we serve.

Most recently, PWNA was awarded a grant from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies to help local leaders be better prepared to assist their tribal communities and displaced residents, specifically on the Pine Ridge, Cheyenne River and Crow Creek reservations in South Dakota. With the support from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, PWNA will advance emergency preparedness efforts in these Native American communities through training, collaboration and access to resources. Specific objectives include:

  • Expanding projects underway on the Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River reservations
  • Extending preparedness projects to Crow Creek Reservation in the Northern Plains
  • Developing an emergency preparedness model curriculum and resource guide based on key success factors relevant to tribal communities
  • Developing a cultural sensitivity curriculum – “Working in Indian Country” – to train other organizations interested in providing disaster and emergency services to tribes
  • Addressing training needs of Native American case managers and disaster recovery teams to assist with long-term recovery efforts in tribal communities
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