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From water pumps in drought stricken Cape Town to floods and howling blizzards on Cape Cod

– Posted in: Community Support

We need to be prepared for more and worse!

Jan Hively, our co-founder, has just lived through four successive nor’-easters that hammered the East Coast of the U.S. mercilessly, wreaking havoc and leaving people isolated. Margie van Zyl Chapman, our network liaison from CommonAge is surviving drought-stricken Cape Town. After the third successive year of no winter rains, the city is down to severe rationing. Many of our Pass It On supporters have been subjected to extreme weather conditions over the past two years and a few have experienced the tragedy of losing their homes to fires, in California, and flooding, in Florida and north to the Carolinas. Hurricanes have devastated islands in the Caribbean and Mexico’s been flooded and lost lives to floods and earthquakes.

Kathrine Fenton-May, a U3A friend in Durban, South Africa, lamented the abysmal lack of preparedness at a recent global U3A conference on climate change: “Let’s stop talking about it and do something because people all over are suffering and are totally unprepared!” Katherine listed what she considered to be vital.


For every person/family, it is vital to have a packet in a waterproof holder with a strap to secure it around the waist, containing: identity document(s) (certified copies are acceptable); banking details, copies of property deeds, drivers license; list of immediate family and contact details; medical history, a copy of medicines prescribed, and at least one week’s supply of medications; a small number of tablets for pain; and a space blanket (a small packet which looks like folded aluminum foil and keeps body heat in and water out).

Jan Hively agrees and insists that emergency preparedness planning for/with older adults is an increasingly important topic, given the growing impacts of climate change. In her Age Friendly Community of Yarmouth, Kathleen Bailey, the director of Senior Services, has written to the Town Administrator asking for broader collaboration with the local energy utility so that the company’s outage maps and customer status apps, already used by many citizens, can be refined by neighbourhood. Spot checks could be carried out for “AT RISK” persons. Those in need can be transported to shelters.

It’s true, says Jan, that Climate Change is impacting Cape Cod and other low-lying islands and peninsulas more than other locations — but sea level rise is also relevant in coastal cities throughout the world. Disasters stemming from drought are also increasing in frequency.

CREW: Communities Responding to Extreme Weather

Many times when disaster occurs, individual citizens want to help but don’t know what actions are needed, whom to contact and what skills may be necessary. Their efforts are not useful as they could be and may even cause difficulty to organized efforts. Fortunately, for Jan in New England, there is a non-profit organization called “CREW”, for “Communities Responding to Extreme Weather.”

CREW is a network of local leaders building grassroots resilience through hands-on education, service and planning. They are working to equip families and communities with the resources and capacity to prepare for and respond to local climate changes equitably, sustainably and collaboratively.

Through trained volunteers, CREW provides education, service and planning for resilience. Here is their charge and the link to their website.


  • How residences, businesses and communities can prepare for projected local climate impacts
  • The links between existing social inequalities and vulnerability to climate change
  • Connections between climate pollution and extreme weather events.


  • Build local resilience, especially for individuals and communities particularly vulnerable to climate change
  • Collaborate with emergency management agencies and other local partners to respond before, during, and after extreme weather conditions


  • Build long-term climate resilience at the municipal and state levels
  • Strengthen the health and equity of our communities
  • Advance constructive solutions to help society achieve a just transition to a clean energy economy.

What’s been done in your family, your community?

Share what you are doing to prepare your family, home and community on this vital issue of emergency preparedness planning, and if the answer is “nothing” you could be the spark. Current events prove that it doesn’t only happen to others. We would like to gather your ideas and build on how to be prepared.

Resilience Planning Tools

Below are some resources developed by CREW and other organizations to help you prepare your family, home and community for climate action. We have divided resources into categories based on what they offer, and have further labeled most resources as either ‘Basic’ (simpler; faster) or ‘Detailed’ (higher time commitment; more data required). Click on each category to learn more.

Gather data to inform assessment and planning

Prepare your family for extreme weather events

Assess your neighborhood’s climate vulnerability

Develop a strategy to build local resilience

Facilitate a resilience planning workshop

CREAT Climate Scenarios Projection Map

For More Information Visit

Communities Responding to Extreme Weather


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