Wilson Kone, of Brooktondale, served in the United States Army for 20 years. When he was stationed in Germany with his family from 1969 to 1972, there was still concern about the Soviet Union invading West Germany. Therefore, each family had an evacuation kit with all the items they would need to survive while being evacuated. Today, Kone always makes sure his family has a preparedness kit and a family game plan at all times in case of an emergency.
“We live in the country. When the power goes off, our well doesn’t work, so we have extra water stored for cooking and in the bathrooms,” Kone said. “We have an emergency kit we carry in the trunk of our car. We’ve never had to use it, but it’s there.”
Kone, a volunteer for the American Red Cross of Tompkins County, teaches preparedness to more than just his wife and children.
“You have to plan for it and you have to act on your plan. You need to put together an emergency kit and put it where you can use it, in your vehicle or next to your door. Make sure your family has evacuation plans and everyone knows where to meet and who to go to – friend, neighbor, relative,” Kone said.
Kone has responded to many emergencies over the years. He has been a Red Cross volunteer for 10 years now, having worked on 10 national disasters. He recalled one particular situation in which one Owego man’s plan saved many lives.
In 2011, when Owego experienced serious flooding, this man’s preparedness benefitted not only him but also his neighbors.
“Their little road got cut off because the water was too high. One gentleman had a generator and fuel for it, and he had some extra food that he had put aside,” Kone said. “He was able to share that with his neighbors as well as his generator with extension cords. It was about a week before they were able to get electricity back in their house.”
Kone said there’s nothing a family can do that’s more important than taking the initiative and being prepared for an emergency or disaster.
“If you can, make sure you are prepared to help other people, too. It’s good to have your family prepared, but you should be prepared to help other people as much as you can; family first and then your neighbors,” Kone said. “Contact the Red Cross. We have all kinds of classes. It’s available; take advantage of it.”
For a schedule of classes, click here.