Local agencies to host disaster preparedness fair in light of national awareness month
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Saturday marked the start of National Preparedness Month -- barely two months after a series of epic summer windstorms rocked West Virginia and surrounding states.
"You never know when the day before is the day before disaster strikes," said Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesperson Anne Roberts, echoing the organization's new campaign slogan.
FEMA's "Ready" campaign aims to get people to better prepare ahead of time for natural or manmade disasters. Only 60 percent of Americans report it's very important to them to prepare for a disaster, according to Roberts.
"This is about asking real people to take the initiative. If more people are already prepared when disaster strikes, that means more emergency responders can focus on saving lives because everyone has done their part," she said.
"There's a bigger picture here. It's not just about helping yourself and your own family -- it's about saving your community."
Kanawha County officials are working together to do their part to celebrate the awareness month with a Sustainable Families Preparedness Fair Sept. 15.
The Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the Charleston Fire Department, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and other agencies will offer a variety of tips on what to do if disaster leaves you without power, food and other essentials.
"None of us knew Mother Nature was going to hit us with those June storms. Even though it was small in comparison to disasters that other areas deal with, there was still panic," said Myra Dolan, lead volunteer organizer for the fair. "As good citizens, it's our job to be prepared."
The fair will feature exhibits about water storage methods, food storage and canning, alternative cooking lessons and home gardening.
Hands-on lessons with fire extinguishers and smoke alarms, as well as practice with finding radio signals, will also be offered.
The free fair will provide 72-hour emergency kits for people and pets, in addition to soil testing kits and pressure tests for canned goods.
"We want families to be self-sufficient. Most people don't prepare because they don't think it will ever happen to them. Then, when it does, there's panic. During our windstorm, people panicked about getting to resources like fuel and ice. It could've been a lot worse," Dolan said.
"We need to do better at preparing for the unknown. You shouldn't have to be dependent on the government to cope with these things."
The preparedness fair will be held in the Habitat for Humanity's Homeowner Education & Community Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The center is located on 815 Court St. in Charleston. An entrance is also available through the Habitat ReStore.
Other groups involved include The Red Cross, the WVU Extension Service, Citizen Corp, Family Leadership First, Volunteer WV and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Admission is free.
For information, call 304-766-0921.
Reach Mackenzie Mays at Mackenzie.firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5100.