A Post-Disaster Help Aid for Everyone

A resource for people who are impacted by disasters.

by Eric Holdeman / April 3, 2019

During the course of a year, I'm sent many different resources by a variety of people. In most cases, these are books on some aspect of disasters. More recently I became aware of Cards for Calamity.

I was contacted by Elizabeth and Jolie who are the founders of a social enterprise that shares knowledge based on learning from disaster, to empower individuals, organizations and communities to seize the opportunities that come with change. They have worked on disasters all over the world but are based in New Zealand.

They have created the Cards for Calamity to help people navigate life after disaster. Composed of tales, tips and tricks, these 70 cards make life a little easier. In practical and profound ways, they guide people through the weeks, months and years after disaster. They realized that to come out of a disaster the best you can, it helps to have knowledge and inspiration from others who have been there before. The cards make life a that little bit easier at such a tough time.  

My thinking is this. There are disaster counseling services available after a large event — but there are not enough of them to go around, and not everyone needs that level of effort for what they are dealing with mentally. These cards can be a way for an individual or family to think about and dialog with one another about the impacts of the disaster and not let feelings get pent up with no form of release. They are not the only solution, but another tool in the toolbox. In this area of our work, there aren't that many tools. 

I'm still thinking about how you go about using these cards as a community/organization. Do you have some sets on hand? Do you distribute them to mental health professionals in the region? Or, at the time of the disaster — you tap this resource? The challenge with this last one is remembering to take action in the middle of dealing with the event. 

You can find more information at www.cardsforcalmity.com

I’ve got a set coming my way, so I will be able to update you on my experience of them. Here are some thoughts on them from two other professionals who have reviewed their content.

I have to say the Cards for Calamity are incredible. The advice is spot-on and of tremendous value to anyone who has just come through a disaster. The cards can be used continually as an aid throughout the long disaster recovery.”

Doug Ahlers — Senior Fellow, Program on Crisis Leadership, Harvard University

"These cards offer advice from disaster recovery professionals who have ‘been there’, many times over. These cards help you learn how to cope, how to plan, how to laugh, and how to cry; without beating yourself up and without expecting too much from yourself and those around you.”

Mary Comerio — Professor of the Graduate School, University of California, Berkeley

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