ACCOMAC/EASTVILLE/CHINCOTEAGUE— Discovering the batteries are gone, the flashlight is nowhere to be found, and the cupboard is almost bare when flood waters have already begun to push over driveways and local roads can give you a sinking feeling. That feeling of being unprepared and vulnerable is what America’s PrepareAthon, on April 30, aims to prevent.
“April is National Preparedness Month, and PrepareAthon is a way to encourage everyone to get ready together, before an emergency strikes,” said C. Ray Pruitt, Accomack County Emergency Management Coordinator. “Everyone thinks they are ready, but when you start asking questions, you find out a lot of people really don’t have a plan at all.”
In fact, in a 2015 survey, less than half of the respondents had a plan they had discussed with family members, and 54 percent did not think their community would experience a natural disaster. Businesses are urged to participate as well. Roughly 40 percent of small businesses never reopen their doors following a disaster. “That’s a tragedy,” said Bryan Rush, Chincoteague’s Emergency Management Coordinator.
“Chincoteague’s appeal comes from its small business base. Can you imagine: A major storm comes along, and 40 percent of our small businesses close shop and don’t reopen? Businesses that don’t prepare really put themselves at risk,” he said.
PrepareAthon is intended to increase community preparedness and resilience, by increasing the number of people who:
Understand which disasters could happen in their community;
Know what to do to be safe and mitigate damage;
Take action to increase their preparedness; and
Participate in community resilience planning.
Hollye Carpenter, Emergency Management Coordinator for Northampton County, said she would like to see everyone involved. “PrepareAthon is the time to take at least one action, because honestly, if we don’t set aside a special time, we just don’t get around to it.”
Some suggested actions individuals, families, or businesses can take include:
-Create and test your communication plan.
-Sign up for local alerts and warnings.
o In Northampton County, go to www.northampton-ems.org and click on “Citizen Alert sign-up.”
o In Accomack County, go to www.co.accomack.va.us/, then under Departments, click on “Emergency Management,” click on CODE RED on the right side.
o In Chincoteague, go to www.chincoteague-va.gov and then click the CODE RED button on the bottom of the page.
Assemble or update supply kits. Get a list of recommended supplies at www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/getakit.
Collect and safeguard critical documents. More than vital records should be included: Financial, medical, and other legal documents are important too. Consider scanning them, and helping neighbors scan their documents too.
Make property improvements to reduce potential injury and property damage (mitigation). Find project ideas at Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) website. www.flash.org/protect
Document and insure your property. The Insurance Information Institute has a downloadable form at www.knowyourstuff.org.
Participate in a preparedness discussion, training, or class. Quick, online training and tools can be found at www.flash.org, www.floodsmart.org, and www.coastalresilieance.org.
Conduct an emergency drill at home or work to test your emergency plan.
Plan with neighbors. FEMA says at least half of Americans expect to rely “at least a great deal” on their neighbors following a disaster.
Conduct a tabletop exercise – walk your community or your organization through a response exercise.
Contact: Hollye Carpenter, Northampton County Emergency Management 757-678-0411
C. Ray Pruitt, Accomack County Emergency Management 757-789-3610
Bryan Rush, Town of Chincoteague Emergency Management, 757- 757-336-3138