When a disaster hits, Americans often have to act fast to keep their families safe and protect their homes and businesses from harm. But responding to an emergency takes more than fast action. To ensure an effective response, Americans must prepare in advance to identify the risks they face, know which steps to take to prepare, and understand their community’s plan.
That’s the idea behind America’s PrepareAthon! National Day of Action. As a nation, we’ve made great progress building and sustaining national preparedness, but we still face diverse threats that challenge our collective security and resilience. And today, individuals, families, and communities across the country are coming together to take action to prepare for some of those threats, including tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, and winter storms.
These kinds of disasters have major implications for our national security, our economy, and our public health. And with climate change exacerbating many of these threats, preparedness is more important than ever. Droughts and wildfires are becoming more frequent and severe in some regions of the country. And climate-related impacts like rising sea levels, increasingly powerful storms, and heavier downpours are contributing to an increased risk of flooding.
Through the PrepareAthon, Americans will participate in discussions, drills, and exercises focused on making sure they’re ready for these challenges. For example, local officials are hosting trainings for their communities, businesses are testing their emergency communication plans, and schools are practicing emergency response activities.
And the federal government is stepping up, too. Agencies are taking various PrepareAthon actions – from hosting shelter-in-place drills in federal facilities to running hurricane recovery exercises on military bases. And today, the Administration is launching an innovative partnership with utility companies to make sure our electric grid can stand up to disasters. This Partnership for Energy Sector Climate Resilience, led by the Department of Energy, is bringing together the leaders of 17 utility companies from across the country to engage leading providers of electricity services in an effort to address the vulnerabilities of the grid to extreme weather and other climate change impacts.
We are also taking other steps to spread the word about the importance of preparedness and resilience. For example, Dr. Kathy Sullivan, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will participate in a discussion at the Center for American Progress to highlight the Administration’s progress in unlocking new data sources and building new tools to help communities prepare for the impacts of climate change. You can watch the event – “From Risk to Resilience: Fortifying U.S. Communities in the Face of Climate Change” – live here at 12:00 p.m. ET. And all day, Administration officials will highlight this day of action on Twitter, using the hashtag #PrepareAthon. To see what’s happening in your community, or to register your own PrepareAthon activity, visit ready.gov/prepare. And remember to keep these important conversations going in your communities all year long.
President Obama is committed to supporting communities working to prepare for the impacts of climate change and other hazards. Together, we can ensure that our nation is safer, healthier, and more resilient.
Amy Pope is Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Homeland Security Advisor. Christy Goldfuss is Managing Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. John Holdren is Assistant to the President for Science and Technology.