State promotes storm preparedness

By KATIE HURST/ Staff Writer

With hurricane season upon us, Alabama Governor Bob Riley is encouraging residents to prepare themselves and their families for local weather-related disasters.

In recognition of September as National Preparedness Month, the state has launched a safety campaign entitled, “Be Ready Alabama.”

“Alabama citizens need to be informed and be ready in case of an emergency,” Riley said in a press release. “That means listening to warnings and announcements, having a family communications plan and an emergency supply kit already put together so it’s there when you need it.”

Sydney Hoffman, director of the Governor’s Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives, said in Shelby County, it’s important to prepare ahead of time for floods and tornadoes.

Hoffman encourages everyone to have a family communication plan in case cell phone towers go down and a disaster kit with essential items.

Disaster kits should include three-days worth of provisions including food, water, cash, prescription drugs and important documents.

“Ultimately, those of us that are fortunate enough to be healthy need to be ready to take care of ourselves, neighbors and others,” Hoffman said. “Emergency responders only make up 1 percent of the population, that’s not enough to take care of the rest of the 99 percent.”

Many people think of the things they would grab in a disaster, but don’t take the next step of actually preparing it, Hoffman said.

“We’re all so busy with our day-to-day lives, but this is something you don’t want to wait until a disaster is here,” she said. “It happens so quickly, you need to be ready to go at the time.”

The preparedness campaign also encourages community groups to get involved to help spread the word. The more ways the message is delivered, the more people will hear it, Hoffman said.

The group is promoting Sept. 26 as “Be Ready Sunday,” and encouraging churches to put out information on disaster preparedness. Hoffman said churches can download information for their church bulletins on the campaign’s website.

The information can be key to saving lives during and after a disaster.

“It’s like insurance,” Hoffman said. “Hopefully you never need it, but if you do, you have it.”

For more information on disaster preparedness and for campaign downloads, visit Readyalabama.org.