Every year natural disasters strike, such as hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes, and tornadoes. For those disasters whose severity is devastating and widespread, such as Hurricane Sandy and the tsunami that ravaged Japan in 2011, national news outlets broadcast multiple stories giving everyone a glimpse into their destruction. However, after the floodwaters have receded or the fires have been extinguished, the stories become less frequent and the people who were not affected by the disaster go on about their business. All of this creates a perception that national disasters only “last a few days.” But for those who live where the disaster has taken place, they will be quick to tell you that is not the case.

When we are not dealing directly with the after-effects of a natural disaster, we tend to think of disasters only in terms of what would be considered short-term recovery actions. Short-term recovery includes actions such as debris removal and restoring power. Those whose lives are turned upside down by disasters face long-term recovery. According to FEMA, long-term recovery refers to the “need to re-establish a healthy, functioning community that will sustain itself over time.”

While most people outside of the Eastern Coast would be hard-pressed to tell you when exactly Hurricane Sandy unleashed her wrath on the New Jersey and New York (it was five months ago), Hurricane Sandy’s impact is still being registered in communities across the Eastern United States. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York notes, “many individuals and businesses have indeed experienced a permanent loss.”

In another example, the tsunami that slammed into Japan just had its two-year anniversary and many parts of the country are still struggling to get back to at least a small semblance of what they had before.

So while most of the world goes about their business hundreds of thousands of people are still suffering.

All of this is to say that emergency preparedness is much more than a 72-hour kit.

The destruction of Hurricane Sandy and Japan’s tsunami illustrate a truth that most of us fail to consider until it happens to us and is too late. Once the news cameras and Red Cross leave, there is still a lot that needs to be done before life can begin to feel “normal” again.

When a natural disaster–or any disaster for that matter–strikes, food is one of, if not the top, need to be addressed. Having food storage that can sustain a family for an extended period of time is comforting in a time of crisis because it is one less thing to worry about.

So if you have an emergency kit, pat yourself on the back for taking steps to be prepared. However, if that is all that you have, do not let yourself be fooled into thinking all is well. The preparations you make today to sustain your family long-term can make all the difference in recovering from a natural or man-made catastrophe.

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