GUAM - Dawn Santos is no stranger to disasters. After all, she lived in Guam for 15 years. "I lived through several typhoons," Santos recalls. But when Typhoon Omar swept through the island in 1992, the Santos family lost everything. Their house and possessions were destroyed.
Santos was hired by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during the Typhoon Omar recovery operation, and is now a FEMA Community Relations Field Officer. Before the Santos' rebuilt their home, they were given information from FEMA on ways to make their home more typhoonresistant. "We got a brochure from FEMA that showed how to secure the house and the roof with hurricane clamps. Even though it was a wood house, we reinforced the supporting concrete pillars with steel and braced the pillars to the foundation below and the roof above," Santos explained.
The Santos' couldn't find the same kind of hurricane clamps that were pictured in the brochure, so they made their own.
As a FEMA disaster assistance employee, Ms. Santos applied what she was preaching to protect her home and possessions. (1) She used her past typhoon experiences as an incentive to reduce potential damages from the next one. (2) She used a publication from FEMA as a guideline. (3) She customized hold-downs when none were available on the island. (4) She funded the project herself.