Magazine article Children's Voice

Lessons Learned from Hurricane Andrew

Magazine article Children's Voice

Lessons Learned from Hurricane Andrew

Article excerpt

The aftermath of Katrina has presented a double-edged sword for some child welfare agencies in the most devastated regions-lots of work to be done, but little revenue to work with. Despite this predicament, Father Bob Tywoniak hopes most affected agencies will be able to hang on to their staff. "They will come out there with hammer and saw, and they will physically rebuild your building when they see that you're going to employ them," he says.

Tywoniak is the former CEO of the child welfare division of Catholic Charities in Dade County, Florida. During his tenure there, he saw the division through Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The buildings that housed Catholic Charities' emergency shelter and residential program for children were destroyed, but all children and staff survived the ordeal unscathed due to careful planning for such an emergency, and rehearsal of that plan.

"It's the training and the drilling and the rote memory of what to do that helps save your life," says Tywoniak, who today serves as Director and Pastor of the St. George Parish Social Ministry in Fort Lauderdale. He adds that agencies need to not only plan for what they are going to do before and during a hurricane, but what will happen afterward. "Those of us who are veterans have always worked by this adage: 'It's not the hurricane that kills, it's the aftermath."'

In preparation for Andrew, Tywoniak had his staff assembled into a prestorm team, a storm team, and a post-storm team. The prestorm team determined their evacuation location and mobilized their files, medical supplies, and equipment. …

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