Delaware officials encourage residents to prepare for emergencies

 (Shana O'Malley/for NewsWorks)

(Shana O'Malley/for NewsWorks)

As we enter the heart of the hurricane season the state of Delaware emergency management officials have a simple message: “Make a kit, have a plan and stay informed.”

It’s all part of National Emergency Preparedness month. State officials gathered at the Delaware Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Smyrna today to remind residents and businesses to restock supplies and update emergency plans.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen the rest of the year with the weather, we’re never sure about that or any other issues that are going on in our nation today,” said Jamie Turner, director of the Delaware Emergency Management Agency. “Therefore we have an obligation to share with you, and share with the citizens of the first state, the necessity for efforts to continue to prepare.”

Gov. Jack Markell said the state was fortunate to be spared from the worst of Hurricane Sandy last year and the issues the state did have were handled quickly and efficiently because emergency responders were prepared.

“We should also be grateful for the really for the work our emergency management community did that year,” said Markell. “Whether it was clearing roads, getting power, getting supplies from the Red Cross to displaced residents, just a ton of work goes into it.”

Multiple state agencies from DelDot to DEMA to the Delaware National Guard practice drills throughout the year to be prepared for numerous types of events. Markell said residents also have to take responsibility.

“Even with all that, and all of the people who show up here, we can’t perform our best without a lot of assistance from the public,” said Markell. “During Hurricane Sandy, I would say we really got terrific cooperation. The public heeded evacuation warnings, they took seriously the information we conveyed to them and we need Delawareans to act now, to prepare for the next disaster, whether it happens in six days or six weeks or six months.”

Markell added that the state is in the process of completing new infrastructure projects to protect certain roads, brides and beaches from a major storm.

“The five newly reconstructed dikes will reduce the risk of flooding and the over-topping of waters from the Delaware River. Meanwhile on the Indian River Inlet, we’re nourishing our beaches by pumping 500,000 cubic yards of sand to the north shore, helping to protect Route 1 and the Indian River Bridge in case of future storm events. That’s an amazing project to see in action,” said Markell.

Three ways to prepare:

The Red Cross advises families to keep an emergency supply kit with at least three days worth of food, water, medication and other supplies in case the power goes out.

“Build a preparedness kit that in the event you can’t get to a store, you lose power, you have the food, the water and other supplies necessary,” said Patrick Delaney, spokesman for the American Red Cross of Delmarva.

He also advises families to plan an emergency meeting place, evacuation route and a plan to stay in touch in case family members get separated. Residents should also stay informed.

“It’s critically important that our citizens stay informed when an event is happening,” said Delaney. “Listening to emergency management directives, particularly if there is evacuating order and listening to the advice that’s being given.”

Preparing for an emergency isn’t just for individuals; Delaney also said businesses should have plans in place.

“We had a tornado touch down in Newark on June 10. A couple of our business partners, they shut down their businesses, requiring their employees to shelter in place. It was a short window of time but imagine if it was hours and hours,” explained Delaney.

Lastly, residents should have a plan to check on neighbors and make arrangements for elderly family members and pets.

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