Disaster Preparedness: Could the U.S. Hold Water?

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That's why Links and his colleagues are working with faith-based organizations to help implement preparation measures among their community members. Many people are more likely to listen to their faith community than a government organization, he said. And not only can the community advocate for physical preparation, it can also build mental resiliency, he said.

"Communities trained in mental health become public health extendors," Links said. "When you've trained them pre-event, they can help during an event."

However, in many cases, community preparedness begins with the engagement of its individual members. Besser said he encourages everyone to pull together an emergency kit before an actual threat surfaces. And Links agreed.

"If we Americans did a better job of that, we'd be more self-reliant and would not need to rely as heavily on governmental infrastructure to save us," Links said.

Visit the Red Cross to purchase a emergency kit.

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