Indiana Officials Urge Hoosiers to Develop a Disaster Plan

September 9, 2008

Three months after devastating floods swept parts of the state, emergency officials urged Indiana residents on Friday, September 6 to take a lesson from that disaster and prepare now for the next natural or manmade calamity.

June flooding that damaged about 7,500 mainly south-central Indiana homes found many flood victims without a disaster plan for their families and lacking the 3-day supply of food, water and other basic necessities emergency officials recommend.

Not having a plan or basic survival supplies can undermine the work of emergency response and rescue crews, and may even put those workers’ lives at risk, said Joseph Wainscott, director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

When the public is prepared, he said, emergency response workers can focus on helping the people who most urgently need assistance.

“Individuals and communities who do not prepare may be needlessly putting our first responders in harm’s way,” Wainscott said during a Statehouse news conference with other state officials.

Friday’s news conference was held in advance of the state’s annual “preparedness week,” which this year runs September 7 through Sept. 13.

State Health Commissioner Judy Monroe said residents should take steps now to prepare for their family’s well-being after a tornado, earthquake, deadly flu outbreak or other disaster because emergency aid may take days to reach victims, depending on a disaster’s severity.

“Emotions run high during an emergency, we all know that. So that’s not the time to try to be planning and figuring it out,” Monroe said, adding that planning can save lives and property.

Wainscott said Indiana residents need to have a family action plan spelling out how their relatives would contact each other if they are separated in a disaster. Part of such a plan includes having an agreed-upon evacuation route and meeting places, he said.

Families also need a disaster kit with a minimum 3-day supply of water and food, a battery operated radio, weather radio, flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit and personal sanitation products, Wainscott said.

If needed, each kit should include prescription medication, pet food or infant formula.

Residents also need to be informed on how to respond in an earthquake, a tornado or other crises and should volunteer if possible to help with disaster recovery efforts.

Andy Miller, the director of Indiana’s Office of Disaster Recovery, said that the state and federal response continues following June’s flooding, which hit south-central Indiana hardest.

He said 17,630 victims of the June flooding and other spring storms have so far applied for federal aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

To date, about $53 million in FEMA aid had been approved for individuals and another $68 million in federal aid has gone to small businesses, Miller said.

Federal aid for local communities to repair bridges, roads and other flood-damaged infrastructure could eventually approach about $150 million, he said.

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