The response phase of an emergency may commence with search and rescue, but in all cases the focus will quickly turn to fulfilling the basic humanitarian needs of the affected population. This assistance may be provided by national or international agencies and organizations. Effective coordination of disaster assistance is often crucial, particularly when many organizations respond and local emergency management agency (LEMA) capacity has been exceeded by the demand or diminished by the disaster itself.
Personal Level Response
On a personal level the response can take the shape either of a shelter in place or an evacuation. In a shelter-in-place scenario, a family would be prepared to fend for themselves in their home for many days without any form of outside support.
In an evacuation, a family leaves the area by automobile or other mode
of transportation, taking with them the maximum amount of supplies they
can carry, possibly including a tent for shelter. If mechanical
transportation is not available, evacuation on foot would ideally
include carrying at least 3 days of supplies and rain-tight bedding, a
tarpaulin and a bedroll of blankets being the minimum.
Donations are often sought during this period, especially for large
disasters that overwhelm local capacity. Due to efficiencies of scale,
money is often the most cost-effective donation if fraud is avoided.
Money is also the most flexible, and if goods are sourced locally then
transportation is minimized and the local economy is boosted. Donors
often prefer to send gifts in kind, which can be helpful if well matched
to real needs. However, due to poor communication some donations are
poorly matched to needs, are sent to the wrong places, or are simply
more appropriate for a thrift store than disaster relief. These items
can end up imposing more of a burden while real needs go unmet, and can
also flood local markets and economically hurt local producers. One
innovation by Occupy Sandy volunteers is to use a sort of gift registry
for disasters; families and businesses impacted by the storm make
specific requests, which remote donors can purchase directly via a