Archived Story

Emergency manager offers tips on how to deal with crisis

Published 10:47am Friday, February 21, 2014

Coming out of a series of turbulent winter storms with the possibility of floods due to melting snow, now is as good a time as ever for county residents to take stock of their emergency readiness.

Cass County Emergency Manager David Smith offered tips for local businesses and families on how to stay on top of things during a time of crisis in a presentation in front of the Dowagiac Rotary Club Thursday.

First and foremost, Smith urged people to develop a plan, and make sure it works before an emergency strikes. He brought up an example of this, mentioning a man from the Kalamazoo region who had travel during a recent blizzard in order to take care of his livestock here in Cass County.

“He didn’t have anybody locally who could have done that for him,” Smith said. “It was kind of a challenge for him and for us to work through those things. He needs to have a plan, and he needs to have a backup plan.”

In their plans, Smith said that families should prepare to be on their own without assistance from emergency personnel for at least three days.

“What we have to prepare for, as we’re seeing more and more, most recently on the east coast, is to be without power for three to five days,” Smith said. “The public needs to have plans in place before then.”

It’s especially crucial for residents of Cass County, as a lot of recent weather events have struck the region without much prior warning, Smith said.

“I’ll call the National Weather Service and ask them what happened, why we didn’t get any warnings or notifications,” Smith said.

One way that residents can stay atop of these situations is by remaining informed, Smith said. Besides traditional mediums such as newspapers or TV, he said that people should consider signing up for text alerts from services such as Nixle, which the county uses to push warnings and notifications to cell phones.

“During our snow events, we used it quite regularly to get information out to the public,” Smith said.

Smith also encouraged people to consider is training with the county’s Community Emergency Response Team program. Not only will the program teach residents some basic emergency response skills, but it will also allow them to become certified volunteers so they can officially assist the county in future crises.

“That’s the type of community we are,” Smith said. “Neighbor will help neighbor. We’re fortunate in that way.”

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