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Proactively Preparing for Hurricane Season and Other Emergencies

By Chris Munger

[Editor's Note: Chris Munger currently serves as special assistant to Mayor Michael Pavia in emergency planning and training.]

The hurricane season officially starts June 1 — are you prepared? For that matter, are you prepared for a tornado, earthquake, severe weather of any sort, or heaven forbid, a Weapon of Mass destruction incident?

The country, as a whole, has experienced some very unusual weather lately, resulting in wide scale destruction and some fatalities. Maybe you think that those calamities cannot happen in Fairfield County — only in the South and West — but a year ago last March, many of us were without power for days,  property was damaged or affected by downed trees, schools were closed and our public services were limited.

The Bridgeport area was hit with a tornado last year, but we have been relatively lucky, so, "It can't happen here," you might say. But what is to prevent the repeat of a hurricane such as the "Hurricane of 1938" that killed about 600 people in New York and New England? I live through that hurricane as a child and a large tree hit our house.

I recently attended the National Hurricane Conference in Atlanta with eight other participants from Fairfield County. Many of the attendees and speakers were from the South and West and quite a few had lived through or suffered from the effects of hurricanes and/or tornados in their part of the country. I found the conference to be very informative, providing many ideas and information to help those of us in government better prepare for natural disasters.

But it also pointed out that government alone is not the only solution for protecting our community. We, as citizens have to prepare our families in the event that we have some sort of natural disaster in our area. The city of Stamford is aggressively updating plans and procedures that proactively plan for and positively respond to a wide range of natural and manmade events.

This what the city of Stamford will be doing in preparation for the hurricane season: conducting a Hurricane Pre-Planning Conference with our government, businesses and regional government partners; revising and updating our emergency plans; testing and ensuring that our emergency equipment is functional and adequate; identifying emergency resources that might be needed in the event of a disaster; addressing all contingencies; a Civilian Emergency Response Team (volunteers); and declaring a "Prepare a Basic Emergency Kit" Day for the city of Stamford.

What about your role and responsibilities as a citizen of Stamford? Again, I ask the question: are you prepared for a disaster? Do you have a family emergency plan? Do you have supplies on hand and other resources to last three days on your own in your house? If you have to evacuate, does your family have a basic emergency supply kit and do you know what it should contain?

So where can I get this information? Go to the City of Stamford Emergency Preparedness Web site and you will get all of the information that you need. But what if I, my friends or family don't have access to the Internet? Simple, help those in need who don't or seek help from friends and family if you don't have Internet access. Your target date to do all of this is June 18, which is the city of Stamford's' "Prepare a Basic Emergency Kit" Day.

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