A national campaign is underway to encourage families and communities to be ready when disaster strikes.
September is National Preparedness Month, dedicated to public educating for disaster and emergency planning.
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency and local emergency managers are encouraging folks across the state to take time to prepare for potential emergencies at homes, at work, and in the community.
"The most common mistake in preparing for emergencies and disasters is to not take measurable steps to prepare at all," said Joe Schroeder, Director of the Grundy County Emergency Management Agency and the Emergency Manager for Grundy County. "It is entirely possible to prepare by purchasing small items to build your supply kit in small increments and in many cases, it is a matter of gathering things together that one already has in their own home and locating them in one easily accessed location. Most importantly, remember to have situational awareness, for example if severe weather is your threat for the day, have an increased awareness of the weather forecasts and rapidly changing conditions."
While September is preparedness month, emergency responders note that disaster can strike at any time. In November 2013, a tornado damaged parts of Coal City and Diamond. In June of 2015, an EF-3 tornado struck Coal City, damaging or destroying more than 800 structures.
The area also regularly sees flooding from the Illinois River and its tributaries, extreme cold, and damaging storms.
Grundy County has a Citizen’s Council that has coordinated training events in Grundy County over the past six years, training around 120 citizens to be better prepared in their own neighborhoods helping their own family, friends and neighbors.
"Most commonly we are faced with similar hazards as most of the Midwest, which is weather," Schroeder said. "Anything from severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flooding to extreme cold and blizzard like conditions. However, we do recognize and prepare and plan for technological and man made hazards for our area as well."
Schroeder said families should follow the “Be Aware, Be Prepared and Have A Plan” motto for preparedness.
Grundy County provides local resources online at www.grundyco.org/emergency-management/ema-prepare/, where many links are listed regarding the hazards that are present in the Grundy County Area.
The site also features downloads for helping children cope with disaster, developing a family disaster plan, and supply kit recommendations.
The Grundy County Emergency Management Agency also hosts preparedness events with information on how to take action, as well as posts planning and preparedness information on its Facebook page. The Grundy County EMA hosts between 20 and 30 preparedness events each year across Grundy County.
Grundy County additionally has has a free, interactive app, available on Android and Apple operating platforms. This app has push notifications of alerts and emergency information directly to your wireless device. Also available with the app are preparedness topics, important area preparedness information links, contact information for many Grundy County Departments and the current weather including a view of local radar.
Grundy County has had an app available since 2015, and was one of the first counties in Illinois to develop a app of this kind
“A disaster can strike at any time and anywhere: When you are at home, at work or while you are traveling on vacation,” said the state's Acting IEMA Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “Today, preparedness is more than building a kit. Community resiliency is achieved when neighbors help neighbors plan for and respond to emergencies. Building a culture of preparedness is the cornerstone of disaster preparedness.”
State and Grundy County EMA officials recommend that residents follow a few steps to prepare for disaster, including earmarking emergency funds in your budget, creating a family plan, involving children in the planning process, and checking in with neighbors before and after anticipated dangerous weather events such as storms and tornadoes.
IEMA offers disaster preparedness information on the Ready Illinois website, www.Ready.Illinois.gov.
During large-scale disasters, IEMA uses the Ready Illinois website, Facebook and Twitter pages to provide critical information about the incident, including shelter locations, road closures, safety information, photos and more.