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Disaster Preparedness Committee-Notes from 5/27/20 Meeting

Disaster Preparedness Meeting 5/27/20 – notes
Our next meeting is Wednesday, June 17, 7:00 PM (a ZOOM invitation will be sent).
Our discussion:
Based on the view points each of us brought to the meeting and the ideas generated during our ZOOM discussion we began to prioritize projects that we want to move forward with. We focused our attention on two fronts: 1) Responding to the current disaster – the Coronavirus pandemic. We’ve begun to identify specific ways we can support our community as we deal with the effects of the pandemic. Of particular concern is an anticipated  increase in mental health issues. 2) We recognize that there will be future disasters, (hurricane season is upon us), and believe it is important to stay mindful of planning for the future and a) help our families prepare for emergencies and b) develop an organizational response to disasters (of any kind).
Projects:
  1. Outreach to individuals
    1. Phone tree – we have begun the process of gathering contact information so that we can reach out to families who have recently been involved in a NAMI Hunterdon program. The purpose is to stay connected via a personal message of support. This form of peer outreach is similar to that practiced by many religious congregations.
      1. Louise and Suzanne will collect contact info and produce lists.
      2. TBD: a script to help callers.
      3. TBD: organizing a volunteer corps to make the calls.
  2. Communications via social media
    1. There is a wealth of information – re services, education, and support – that can assist our families who are struggling during the pandemic. We want to make our NAMI Hunterdon website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed a place where families can easily access this information and feel connected to NAMI Hunterdonnas they utilize resources.
      1. Our current website looks great but we can make it even better by ensuring that content is current and relevant.
        1. Louise is in contact with NAMI NJ to work out the how’s for linking to their webinars and online groups (we already have a link but the state has suggestions for giving local affiliates greater visibility).
        2. Dawn is going to work on this project. Louise will introduce Dawn to Mel and Sean and whoever else is active in managing NAMI Hunterdon’s online presence.
  3. Increasing NAMI Hunterdon Visibility
    1. It is important that the larger Hunterdon community knows that NAMI is an organization active in times of disaster. To increase visibility:
      1. Dawn has compiled a list of agencies where NAMI can be included as a community resource.
      2. Alicia has already spoken with Karen Demarco at the Hunterdon County Dept. of Health and as a result we are listed on their page for community resources.
      3. Jen has offered to be a link with NJ Council Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
      4. Posting flyers at venues like grocery stores and community centers – those that are open – is an effective albeit old fashioned way of spreading the word, especially to those first timers.
  4. Preparing for the next Disaster
    1. The next disaster may be the crush of burdens created by the current pandemic producing anxiety, pain, and despair or it may be a catastrophic weather event or an act of terror. We need to be prepared for the unknown and unexpected.
      1. We can dedicate a set of web pages providing specific recommendations for how to prepare for disasters: e.g.
        1. List of provisions and essentials in the event of a) sheltering in place, or b) having to seek an emergency shelter.
        2. Emergency numbers.
        3. Protocols to follow.
        4. Registries for text alerts and special instructions for first responders.
      2. Develop a phone tree for emergency check-in
    2. Organizational preparedness includes:
      1. Continuity plan
      2. On-going efforts to train volunteers (via State training programs) to lead support groups and teach classes.
  5. Building cohesion during self-isolation and physical distancing.
    1. Organize a social event – either online or on the ground depending on state dictates and our own risk assessment – to bring the NAMI Hunterdon community together.
      1. To share stories, renew bonds of friendship, revive feelings of solidarity, (we’re all in this together), and provide families with a reminder that NAMI Hunterdon is here to offer support.

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