HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lanakila Meals on Wheels packing plant puts out over a thousand meals a day for Oahu's needy seniors. The tsunami in March showed the non-profit it needed a better way to deal with disasters.
"The most difficult part was getting in touch with the seniors, letting them know if we're going to have service or not," interim director Lenny Fabro said.
Meals on wheels groups across the country face similar hurdles. During major catastrophes like Katrina and the more recent tornado strike in Joplin, Missouri, the challenge has been staying on line.
"How do we ensure that no meal service will be interrupted when there is in fact an emergency?" said Enid Borden, president of Meals on Wheels Association of America.
Borden is going nationwide this summer, holding emergency preparedness workshops at its Meals on Wheels affiliates and touting what the organization "can" do during a crisis.
"We are the ones who know where those seniors are. So we need to be able to respond in an emergency to find out just where those seniors are, in what homes," she said.
The goal is to continue serving meals during a disaster. That means having generators handy if electricity is interrupted and having a game plan to get back to full operations as quickly as possible.
Borden said Katrina was a wake up call.
"If there was a shred of good news it was that it made us open our eyes to the fact that we have to be prepared for emergencies like that," she said.
After the tsunami, Lanakila Meals on Wheels went to work to update its preparedness procedure.
"We talked about emergency generators, backup generators," Fabro said. "We talked about setting up satellite kitchens in certain parts of the island if we need to."
The hope is that it will never be needed. The reality is it's better to have a plan ready to go rather than to be caught empty handed.