Growing up in my family, there was always a particular sense of dread anytime we had severe weather. If there was a tornado watch my folks got a little on edge. If it was a warning, then we were prepared to go into the basement or actually just went down there. My dad, always on guard, would watch the skies until the weather had passed.
I didn’t understand why my folks were so concerned about tornadoes, until they explained to me once they had been in the worst tornado on record — the Beecher tornado, which tore through Genesee County in 1953, killing 116 people and injuring another 844.
My dad talked about how the twister leveled his entire neighborhood at the time. How he barely got my siblings into the basement of the neighbor’s house (because their house didn’t have a basement) and how he ended up stuck in the entrance to the walk-in basement watching the tornado go over and twist trees out of the ground as if they were screws being taken from a piece of wood with the screwdriver.
Sixty-one years ago, people weren’t ready for a disaster, but today the Genesee County Health Department wants residents to plan for the worst — just in case.
September is National Preparedness Month (NPM). This year’s theme is “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare.” The Health Department encourages all individuals, households, businesses and communities to prepare and plan for emergencies.
Public health emergencies and natural disasters can occur at any moment without warning. In the event of an emergency, response teams may be overwhelmed and unable to respond to you immediately. Take the following steps to get prepared:
1. Be informed about emergencies that could happen in your community. In recent years Genesee County residents have experienced flooding, tornadoes, extreme heat, extreme cold, ice storms, large snow storms, and prolonged power outages. Consider those situations when planning. Sign up for weather alerts through your smart phone so you are notified of severe weather.
2. Make a plan for what to do in an emergency. Create a household family emergency plan to address how you will handle emergency situations. The GCHD has a Family Emergency 1 of 2 Plan template to make it easy. Visit www.gchd.us and click on Family Emergency Plan under the popular pages section.
3. Build a kit. Create an emergency supply kit that includes non-perishable food items, can opener, water, flashlights, batteries, and first aid supplies. A full list of supplies can be found at www.gchd.us, click on Other Programs, Emergency Preparedness, and go to the Personal and Family Preparedness Section. A list can also be found in the back of the GCHD Family Emergency Plan template.
When you are planning make sure to consider household pets and any other special needs your family may have. Also consider elderly family or neighbors that might need your assistance in an emergency. Details: Visit www.gchd.us or www.ready.gov. firstname.lastname@example.org