2007 Regular Session
By: Representative Ishee
A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION URGING STATE ACTION TO ATTEND THE NEEDS OF CHILDREN AFFECTED BY NATURAL DISASTERS BY IMPLEMENTING A SYSTEM OF PLANNING, RESPONSE AND RECOVERY.
WHEREAS, major disasters resulting in Presidential disaster declarations have increased from an average of 38 per year in the 1980s, to 45 per year in the 1990s, to 52 per year during the first half of this decade; and
WHEREAS, the occurrences of major disasters are expected to continue to increase in the foreseeable future, thus making the number of children affected by disasters such as Katrina to grow exponentially; and
WHEREAS, schools were closed immediately after Hurricane Katrina, with seven percent of Mississippi elementary and secondary schools remaining closed six months after Katrina, accounting for more than 400,000 children under the age of five, who lived in counties or parishes declared disaster areas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency; and
WHEREAS, the number of licensed child care facilities in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina declined by four percent, accounting for 54 facilities in Mississippi closing as a direct result of Hurricane Katrina; and
WHEREAS, children are known to benefit from immediate mental health programs following disasters to mitigate long-term impacts; and
WHEREAS, the existing system of disaster management in the United States is the purview of federal, state and local government emergency management organizations, and such organizations are not mandated, nor are they able to fully respond to the unique needs of children; and
WHEREAS, federal, state and local government emergency professionals lack the technical knowledge, support and contacts to address the unique needs of children that must be incorporated into such professionals' disaster management programs; and
WHEREAS, existing legislative constraints on federal disaster response and recovery aid programs restrict disaster officials from responding to the needs of children in a disaster, and there is no government liaison or programs concerning children's issues in disaster:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE SENATE CONCURRING THEREIN, That the needs of children affected by major disasters are unique and should be given special consideration in planning, responding to and recovering from major disasters.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other governmental emergency management professionals should consult with appropriate child-focused nongovernmental organizations and public universities with experience in addressing the needs of children in major disaster preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation, including:
(a) Incorporating suggestions from such organizations on children's issues into the national, state and local response plan;
(b) Seeking the recommendations of such organizations on how to address the needs of children in emergency shelters, trailer parks and transitional housing sites;
(c) Jointly developing child, family and school-focused disaster preparedness materials to support understanding of the impact of disasters on children and strategies to mitigate the impact; and
(d) Jointly developing risk assessment tools for communities to use in determining children's specific disaster risks.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution be furnished to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and to the members of the Capitol Press Corps.