On August 25, 2012, Red Cross held a workshop to prepare people for possible weather related emergencies. ISF’s very own Brad Harris attended this workshop in Tallahassee. Red Cross’ goal was to educate residents on how to handle and prepare for weather related emergencies and to provide survival tips for its residents to keep their community safe until trained First Responders arrive. From the perspective of a local resident and homeowner, Brad said he was pleased to see how many people were looking to “up” their preparedness by attending such an event. Approximately 12-15 people took part in the workshop.
Brad participated in the workshop because he understands the importance of being prepared and the potential danger for those who underestimate the impact severe weather can have on their community. When interviewed by a local news broadcaster, Brad stated, “It’s very important, especially in the early hours right after a storm, for neighbors to help one another and step up and clear those trees and share resources. We have a family hurricane preparation kit. It has four days’ worth of food, water, batteries, flash lights, those kind of things”. Emergency officials set up real-life scenarios and discussed action plans, including how to care for a handicap neighbor.
Brad was representing his Home Owners Association (HOA) as the Board President and gained valuable tips on what can and should be done when preparing for a storm which he would like to share:
- There should be a list for the community of resources that each person could lend out in case of an emergency, such as gas jugs, generators, chainsaws, four-wheel drive trucks, etc…
- There should be a list of special needs in the community so we know who needs to have medicine refrigerated, or has an oxygen pump, or who has special dietary needs (infants, elderly, etc…)
- The neighborhood should be made aware of any special arrangements or preparations underway so they don’t duplicate effort or adversely affect the community efforts.
During the storm….hunker down and stay safe.
Immediately after the storm, a neighborhood assessment should be conducted to check for damaged homes, downed power-lines, broken gas/water lines, road damage, and downed limbs. This assessment should include who has power, who doesn’t, who’s phone works.
Then a remediation plan should be devised in the case that emergency vehicles couldn’t gain access to the neighborhood grounds. The priorities of the plan should follow:
- Personal safety
- Emergency access
- Provide for water and food needs of the community (water first, food next).
- Prevent further damage to property.
- Animal control and roundup
- Re-establish normalized routines.
Then there were more “after-the-fact” tips that seem as equally important. Katrina taught us that after a large storm, handy-men and contractors will descend upon an area and potentially misrepresent themselves as legitimate avenues for quick repairs. In New Orleans many fly-by-night contractors appeared to “weatherize” homes and they would simply throw a tarp over the roof and bill $2,500 for it. The moral of this is to make sure you know who you are dealing with and make sure your insurance is in the loop.
Overall, Brad found the exercise fun and interesting, and he presented his findings to the HOA Board at their last meeting. Brad has shown that he leads by example; he does not underestimate the importance of being proactive.
Red Cross’ web site offers additional information on their Workshops and Training opportunities, it can be viewed at the following URL: http://www.redcross.org/prepare.