Great weather has a way of getting people outside – and in this case, it helped share the message of being prepared for emergencies. On Saturday, July 27, the warm temperatures brought out hundreds of residents to their local Home Depot store for new tools and supplies so they could work on home improvement projects. In Downingtown, PA, people that arrived at their local Home Depot, saw various private sector, local, and state representatives who came together to encourage preparedness in the community.
We were there from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., talking to customers and answering questions about preparedness. It gave us the opportunity to teach them about being prepared as an individual and the importance of making a plan, having a kit, and being informed. While interacting with people and answering questions was great, what really amazed me though was how interested kids are in talking about being better prepared.
After we all came back to the office on Monday, a coworker, Corey Rigby, told me about someone she spoke with at the Bensalem, PA store and the story really stuck with me. Grace is an 8 year old girl who went to the FEMA table with her dad. Grace kept talking preparedness and answered Corey’s questions to see if she was ready for a disaster. As Corey asked her about what to do in a hurricane, she knew right away to find a flashlight and stay inside. After giving her a Ready Kids coloring book, her dad pulled her away to continue their day.
An hour later, Grace reappeared, dragging her dad back to the booth as she told Corey with excitement, “I want to learn more, ask me another question!” As she stood ready to prove that she knew what to do, Corey asked her several questions about how she would take care of her pets, where they would go if they need to evacuate, and what she would take with her. She proudly said that she’d take her stuffed animals, her parents, and their dog, but she wasn’t sure what else she would need. Corey explained that her family needed to make an emergency supply kit, which they can take with them when evacuating. Grace then turned to her dad and said, “I want to make one when we get home!” Her dad agreed that an emergency kit is important and thanked Corey as they walked away. Corey’s story, just one of many that the Region III team had, stood out to me because it showed how a child can improve preparedness for the whole family and make a difference.
I was able to speak with children and their families and a number of other stakeholders; including representatives from SERVPRO, Allstate Insurance, Generac Power Systems, Chester County Emergency Services, the Pennsylvania National Guard, Downingtown Fire Department, Downingtown Police Department, and Phoenixville Dive Rescue Team. I talked to them about FEMA’s upcoming National Preparedness Month and where they can find the new 2013 toolkit for sharing preparedness in their community.
I want to commend Home Depot on their Hurricane Preparedness Workshop; it was an excellent event and extremely well organized. The fine people from Home Depot were wonderful hosts who did a great job of bringing the Whole Community together – and the great weather didn’t hurt either.