County EMA urges disaster preparation

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 22, 2006

Butler County EMA Director Bob Luman said preparation is the best defense in dealing with a disaster, be it a hurricane, tornado, or even terrorism.

&#8220Since we are all local somewhere, we need to know what we can do to best help our government help our families and us,” he said.

Hurricane season starts on June 1 and Luman encouraged everyone to start preparations now. He said the EMA has pamphlets and home study courses that provide instruction on how best to handle a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

&#8220After you have received this information, your first action should be to develop your own plan for your family,” he said. &#8220We are our own protectors. While government hopes to have resources to help, there will almost always be a delay in getting help to some of the people needing it. This means you need to provide for your survival for up to 72 hours after an event. This is true whether or not you stay home or if you come to a shelter.”

The American Red Cross said families should prepare a disaster preparedness kit, with emphasis placed on water, non-perishable food items, and a first aid kit.

Luman said panicking is not an option.

&#8220How you respond to warnings may determine how you survive a disaster,” he said. &#8220If you have planned for the type of disaster you are facing, use your plan. Weather warnings usually are given far in advance of the storm. Watch for instructions that can direct you to safety or keep you informed of hazards that are coming.”

Luman said individuals such as the elderly or poor in health should alert emergency agencies well in advance of a storm to find a shelter where their needs can be met.

When the storm, or event, passes, Luman said only then should homeowners check property for damage.

&#8220If you are able to leave your home, check on your neighbors and help those you can,” he said. &#8220Call for help if anyone is injured or if you cannot remain in your home. If you were not affected by the storm, please remain calm and think about helping others.”

Luman said any individual wishing to help in emergency situations, may contact the EMA at 382-7911, or the Department of Human Resources at 382-4400. Additionally, he said, the EMA needs forklifts and a freezer trailer for ice to use during an emergency. Businesses who have these, or other equipment that would be beneficial to emergency workers during a crisis, can call the EMA office.

&#8220All effort expended by the emergency response agencies is to help each person affected by the disaster,” he said. &#8220We are all in this together and we depend on each other for both support and understanding.”

He said supplies - such as Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) - are for those truly in need, and encouraged people not to take advantage of an emergency situation.

&#8220Don't be like the lady who called two weeks after Hurricane Ivan,” he said. &#8220She wanted MREs even though she had food and electricity. She wanted them because a neighbor had got some after the storm and she didn't. The MREs we had left went to help Katrina victims in Mississippi.”