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Red Cross and Story Co. Coalition Encourage Preparedness

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The American Red Cross teamed up with the Story County Coalition for Disaster Recovery to put on Spring Fury, an emergency preparedness event to inform people about the resources available in the event of a disaster. 

The coalition includes the Red Cross, Central Iowa Retired Seniors Volunteer Program (Central Iowa RSVP,) Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and Story County Emergency Management Agency. 

“The coalition was organized to bring all of our organizations together to locate resources, avoid duplication, and maximize those resources during a disaster,” said Melissa Spencer, Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator for Story County.

Spring Fury took place on Saturday April 30, at City Church in Ames. The event featured various children’s activities and speakers every hour. The speakers covered the importance of preparedness, immediate safety, pet response and safety as well as safety plans for individuals with special needs. 

Stephanie Brady, Assistant Executive Director at The Independent Living Center Inc. in Joplin, Missouri, was the keynote speaker. Brady lived through the deadly Joplin tornado of 2011 and was vice chairperson of the long term recovery team.  Brady spoke about her personal experiences and the importance of communities taking part in pre-disaster planning. She now specializes in pre-disaster planning for individuals with special needs. Jason Sydejko, meteorologist at KCCI News Channel 8 teamed up with storm chaser, Ben McMillan, to talk about what people need to know if they are in immediate weather crisis including what to do if you get stuck on the highway in an emergency. 

Central Iowa RSVP displayed family and pet emergency kits and volunteers presented The Pillowcase Project two times for kids who attended the event. The Pillowcase Project is a Red Cross preparedness education program for children in grades 3 – 5, which teaches students about personal and family preparedness, local hazards, and basic coping skills. 

Additionally, the Ames Police Department made finger printing available for the children who attended the event. The Ames Fire Department offered fire extinguisher training. 

It is important to make sure that the entire family is prepared and informed in the event of a disaster or emergency. You may not always be together when these events take place and should have plans for making sure you are able to contact and find one another.  

The American Red Cross suggests some basic steps to make sure you remain safe.

Meet with your family or household members.  Discuss how to prepare and respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play. Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and plan to work together as a team.

Plan what to do in case you are separated during an emergency. 

Choose two places to meet: 

  1. Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire?
  2. Outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.

Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should have emergency contact information in writing or saved on their cell phones.

Plan what to do if you have to evacuate 

Decide where you would go and what route you would take to get there. You may choose to go to a hotel/motel, stay with friends or relatives in a safe location or go to an evacuation shelter if necessary.  Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on your map in case roads are impassable.

Plan ahead for your pets. 

Keep a phone list of pet-friendly hotels/motels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.