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Indian Country

Good preparations today can decrease fear, reduce losses, and speed recovery in a time of disaster or emergency. FEMA, which is part of the federal government, has a nation-to-nation relationship with tribal governments as reflected in our Tribal Policy. FEMA works with tribal officials to help communities be prepared before an emergency and recover after disaster strikes.

The goal of Ready Indian Country is to collaborate with tribal governments to build emergency management capability and partnerships to ensure continued survival of Tribal nations and communities. Visit FEMA's Emergency Management Institute for additional information on training for Tribal Representatives.

Be Informed

Learn about the types of emergencies most likely to affect your community

  • Be prepared to adapt this information to your personal circumstances

  • Make every effort to follow instructions received from local officials

Readiness planning is essential for all American Indians and Alaska Natives, and there are special considerations when families live on tribal lands located far from urban centers. Consider the following as you make your readiness plans.

  • Communications: You should have at least one traditionally wired land-line phone, as cordless or cellular phones may not work in an emergency.
  • Transportation: Rural and reservation lands can be geographically isolated without easy road access or public transportation. If you or someone you know doesn't have a car, make alternate plans for transportation, such as riding with a neighbor.

    Emergency Shelters and Food Sites: These sites may not be close by. Locate them ahead of time by asking the emergency planners for your tribe, village, or pueblo.

  • Elders: Older people have special needs in emergency situations. Consider medicines or medical supplies that are used regularly. Talk to hospitals, medical clinics, and other service providers about emergency plans. If electricity is necessary to operate medical equipment, ask providers what to do during power outages. Enlist family and friends as a support network, share emergency plans, and make sure another family member or friend has a key to the home.
  • Livestock: Prearrange a location and make plans for transport if you keep horses, cattle, sheep, goats, or pigs. Learn more about protecting livestock.

Make a Plan

Pick a friend to call if you get separated from family

  • Know where to meet
  • Make a list of important information

  • Make a plan to evacuate

  • Make a plan to shelter in place

  • Talk with your family and tribe

  • Practice your plan

Build A Kit

Could you get along on your own for a few days if your reservation, village or pueblo experienced an emergency? Each family should make preparations now for immediate or potential situations that threaten life, property or the environment. Preparing today will speed up recovery time in an emergency.

Assemble enough emergency supplies for at least 3 days

  • Include pet supplies, medicines, diapers and infant formula, if needed.

  • Don't forget your tribal ID along with other important papers.

  • Use easy-to-carry bags or bins. Consider a second kit for the car.

Local Plans

  • Each tribal government should develop its own plan for emergencies or disasters. Ask your elected tribal leaders about the plan for your community. Additional sources for information include tribal law enforcement, tribal fire departments, emergency response services, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service clinics and hospitals.

Alaska Natives

Severe cold, blizzards, floods, storms, wildland fires, earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis are some of the conditions that can cause emergencies or disasters for the people of Alaska.

Alaska Natives need to be prepared for unique hazards in their region:

  • Limited emergency services and the vast distance between cities, towns, and villages can mean a much longer wait for medical assistance

  • Disruption of services such as water and sanitation as a result of an earthquake can take months to restore

  • The extremely high cost of food, heating oil and fuel make it difficult for many families to create a food cash and emergency supplies

Northwest

Storms, floods, blizzards, wildfires, earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis are some of the conditions that can cause emergencies or disasters for the people of the Northwest Coast and Plateau areas.

In the Northwest, the 4 distinct seasons, extreme hot and cold temperatures and the diverse climates and terrain create a large number of hazards:

  • From the mountains to the plateau to the high desert, wildfires are an annual occurrence that can destroy homes, businesses, timber, salmon habitat, and other natural resources

  • In coastal areas, high winds from winter storms can cause falling trees that block roads or bring down power lines

  • Heavy rains and melting snow can cause flooding and cut off access in remote areas

  • Threat of tsunamis is a constant concern for those tribes living along the coast

Northeast

Storms and hurricanes, blizzards, floods, tornadoes, wildfires and earthquakes are some of the conditions that can cause emergencies or disasters for the people of the Northeast.

The Northeast region has received more than its share of snow in recent years. Severe weather or other man-made disasters can have devastating effects on tribes.

  • Native people living in the Northeast are accustomed to extreme winter weather, but when several feet of snow drops in a short period of time, roofs can collapse, trees can fall and travel can be nearly impossible

  • Lake effect snow can also contribute to snowfall totals in the Northeast

  • Flooding, hurricanes, and tornadoes can be equally unpredictable

Southwest

Wind, rain, snow storms, floods, wildfires and severe weather are some of the conditions that can cause emergencies or disasters for the people of the Southwest.

In recent years the Southwest has experienced extreme weather:

  • In desert areas, Native people must endure extreme heat that can cause droughts, blinding dust or sand storms, and a monsoon season that can wash out roads and make travel over the vast distances nearly impossible

  • Along the southern coast, mudslides and flooding have caused the loss of homes, resources and businesses

  • In the mountains and higher elevations, blizzards stranded people and livestock for several days in rural areas

  • Across the Southwest, wildfires are always a danger and an earthquake can happen with no warning taking down power lines and causing broken water lines

Northern Plains

Storms, floods, blizzards, severe cold, wildfires and tornadoes are some of the conditions that can cause emergencies or disasters for the people of the Northern Plains.

Few people living on the Northern Plains will soon forget the devastating blizzard of 2010 that crippled reservations from Montana to the Dakotas.

  • Blizzards are common across the plains and can caused loss of power, frozen water pipes, treacherous driving conditions and drifting snow, which can cut off access to food, medicine and life-saving treatment such as dialysis

  • In the spring and summer months, severe hail and thunderstorms can bring lightning and high winds or cause flooding in low-lying areas

Southeast

Storms and hurricanes, oil spills, floods, wildfires, tornadoes and earthquakes are some of the conditions that can cause emergencies or disasters for the people of the Southeast.

Seminole tribal members believe that if the land dies, so will the tribe. Many tribes in the Southeast have that same connection to the land, water and environment. Knowing how unpredictable nature can be, it is important to be aware of the hazards most common in this area.

  • Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a hurricane

  • The recent oil spill in the gulf shows that some disasters and their aftermath can have lasting effects on lifestyle and livelihood

Southern Plains

Tornadoes, storms, floods, wildfires, oil spills and earthquakes are some of the conditions that can cause emergencies or disasters for the people of the Southern Plains.

The people of the Southern Plains live with the constant threat of tornadoes but that is not the only hazard for which they must be prepared.

  • Ice storms are more common than snow storms in some areas; falling trees or broken branches can bring down electrical lines and ice and wind can topple cell towers and cut off communication

  • Severe rain and hail can cause flooding, which can close roads and damage property

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