"Storm systems will continue to develop and affect the region," said Mike Moore, head of the federal disaster recovery team in Arkansas, "and the state has already experienced a bad hit this year. More severe weather systems will strike this area; it's just a matter of when, not if. It's bound to happen again, so get ready now."
Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) urge residents throughout the state to focus their attention on the weather, assemble and keep disaster emergency preparedness kits close by and be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice if notified by local officials to leave their homes.
Put together a disaster kit and store it in a portable container in case of evacuation. The kit should include:
- At least a three-day supply of food and bottled water for each family member
- A manual can opener
- Battery-powered radio and flashlights with extra batteries
- First aid kit with family members' medications
- Hygiene and personal care items
- Emergency contact list and phone numbers
- Pet supplies
- Copies of important papers including insurance policies and bank account information
- Emergency cash or credit card in the case of an evacuation with little notice and
- A full tank of gas.
"Putting together a disaster preparedness kit only takes a short time and can mean the difference between having the basic necessities or being uncomfortable, and quite possibly in serious trouble, during a period when you are away from home or without power," said ADEM Director David Maxwell. "Do it now...before more storms arrive and it's too late."
It's also important to develop a family disaster plan and know how to stay safe during an emergency.
- Discuss what your family will do when flooding is eminent and where you will go in an evacuation - to a shelter, hotel or to stay with family or friends. Don't forget about pets. Many shelters will not permit them, so plan in advance what to do with them.
- Know and review your evacuation route
- Develop a family communication plan. Identify a friend or relative in another state or city to serve as a point of contact in case family members are separated
Be prepared for future disasters. Stay informed about the potential for flooding and know the risks involved.
- Determine the risk and take the necessary precautions.
- Never drive through high water
- Take action to reduce potential water damage. Consider flood insurance as well as property insurance against strong winds. Review your insurance coverage with your insurance agent, and update your coverage amounts. Consider elevating utilities or appliances - even the entire home.
- Focus on protecting and reinforcing the roof, windows and garage against strong winds. Keeping these in place could lessen overall damage during a straight-line winds or a tornado.
- "Hurricane straps" - very effective during tornadic activity - and shutters are cost-effective measures. Consult a building contractor, home improvement store or go to the following websites: www.fema.gov; www.ready.gov and www.adem.arkansas.gov
FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts...