AmeriCares launched two new disaster preparedness initiatives June 1, the official start of the 2012 hurricane season in the Atlantic, to help prepare families in hurricane-prone communities throughout the United States and Latin America. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting nine to 15 named storms over the next six months, including four to eight hurricanes.

In the United States, where a tropical storm struck Florida earlier this week, the disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization is preparing emergency kits with first aid supplies, household cleaning products and personal hygiene items for families temporarily displaced by storms or left to clean up water damage that could pose health hazards. More than 2,500 kits will be kept on hand at AmeriCares Connecticut headquarters, ready to be distributed to families in need after a major storm.

AmeriCares is also working with partner organizations in hurricane-prone communities in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Colombia to aid displaced families and to help stem the spread of disease. The project will have on hand enough emergency relief supplies to provide 1,500 survivors with tarps for shelter, water purification products, cooking supplies and other urgently needed items within 72 hours of an emergency.

"The only way to respond effectively to a disaster is to prepare thoroughly beforehand," AmeriCares Director of Emergency Response Garrett Ingoglia said. "We have to anticipate survivors' needs and be ready to go before a storm hits."

In Haiti, AmeriCares operates a 12,500-square-foot warehouse in Port-au-Prince stocked with essential medicines, hygiene supplies, water storage and treatment materials, and cholera treatment and prevention materials that can be distributed for hurricanes as well as localized flooding from other severe storms.

"The only way to respond effectively to a disaster is to prepare thoroughly beforehand," AmeriCares Director of Emergency Response Garrett Ingoglia said. "We have to anticipate survivors' needs and be ready to go before a storm hits."

More Information

Fact box

AmeriCares is a nonprofit global health and disaster relief organization that delivers medicines, medical supplies and aid to people in need around the world and across the United States. Since it was established in 1982, AmeriCares has distributed more than $10 billion in humanitarian aid to 164 countries. For more information, visit americares.org.