WASHINGTON (AP) — Eight years after Hurricane Katrina, most states still don't require four basic safety plans to protect children in school and child care from disasters, aid group Save the Children said in a report released Wednesday.
The group faulted 28 states and the District of Columbia for failing to require the emergency safety plans for schools and child care providers that were recommended by a national commission in the wake of Katrina. The lack of such plans could endanger children's lives and make it harder for them to be reunited with their families, the study said.
The states were: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Virginia.
"Every workday, 68 million children are separated from their parents," Carolyn Miles, Save the Children's president and CEO, said in a statement with the group's annual disaster report card. "We owe it to these children to protect them before the next disaster strikes."
After Katrina exposed problems in the nation's disaster preparedness, the presidentially appointed National Commission on Children and Disaster issued final recommendations in 2010 .calling on the states to require K-12 schools to have comprehensive disaster preparedness plans and child care centers to have disaster plans for evacuation, family reunification and special needs students.
Idaho, Iowa, Kansas and Michigan do not require any of the four recommended plans, the study found, while D.C. and the remaining states each require one or more of them.
The number of states meeting all four standards has increased from four to 22 since 2008, the report said. The group praised New Jersey, Tennessee, Nebraska and Utah for taking steps over the past year to meet all four standards.
Save the Children said it found gaps in emergency preparedness during a year when school shootings devastated Newtown, Conn., Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc along the East Coast and tornadoes ravaged Oklahoma.
Miles said such disasters "should be a wake-up call, but too many states won't budge."
A spokeswoman for the National Governors Association declined comment on the report, referring questions to the various states.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois officials are urging residents to make plans for disasters as Gov. Pat Quinn has declared September "Emergency Preparedness Month."
Authorities will work with other states and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to encourage individual plans for homes and businesses.
Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Jonathon Monkenb says a plan should include where to go and how to communicate during disasters as well as an emergency supply kit.
IEMA relies on its Ready Illinois website during disasters. Updates are also posted on Facebook and Twitter. Information is provided about the incident, shelter locations, road closures, safety information and more.
The agency will host its annual emergency management conference Wednesday through Friday in Springfield for more than 1,000 representatives from fire, law enforcement, emergency management and public health.
BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - Illinois state regulators have cited the city of Belleville for gaps in its planning for tornadoes and other emergencies.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports the Illinois Department of Labor investigated after an alderwoman's complaint when tornado sirens sounded during a City Hall meeting and no effort was made to move people to safety.
The Department of Labor conducted interviews in early June and determined employees lack training on the city's emergency plan. In a July 17 citation, the department gave Mayor Mark Eckert until Aug. 21 to submit a new written emergency plan.
Eckert says that plan has been written and he's hoping to start drills this month at City Hall. The mayor says he wants the new plan approved by the City Council on Monday.