Amid Storms, FEMA Stresses Preparation
April 29, 2014—In the wake of widespread tornado damage this weekend in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and other states, federal agencies are joining forces to encourage Americans to prepare for a natural disaster before it occurs. According to a 2012 National Survey by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), despite an increase in weather-related disasters, nearly 70% of Americans have not participated in a preparedness drill or exercise, aside from a fire drill, at their workplace, school, or home in the past two years.
Jodi Richmond is Director of the Lake County Department of Homeland Security/Emergency Management Agency. She says preparing for a disaster is critical. “If something happens on a very large scale or effects a lot of people all at once, they say that sometimes it may take up to 72 hours before the authorities and the EMS personnel and the public safety people can get to you,” says Richmond. “So, in those first 72 hours, you’re kind of on your own.”
April 30, 2014 has been declared America’s PrepareAthon!, a community-based campaign to increase emergency preparedness for tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, and wild fires. FEMA research suggests that communities are better prepared to withstand an emergency and recover more quickly when everyone is involved in planning. Events around the country will ask individuals to discuss, practice, and train for relevant hazards.
Richmond says better preparation is sometimes as simple as a talk around the kitchen table. “Just even having a discussion with the family members about what to do, let’s say if they have flooding,” Richmond said. “Are they going to have any spare water if they need it, where would they go if they are out and then need to be back home, how can they be reconnected again?”
For more information on preparing for disaster, or to find an America’s PrepareAthon! Event near you, visit http://www.ready.gov/prepare.