Be ready for disaster

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RAPID CITY, SD — Come rain or shine, hail or rain, the best way to weather disasters is to prepare in advance.

“So for the past 15 years or so, September has become National Preparedness Month. And I believe it started after 9/11, and in September as well, as a time to recognize that every year,” said Alexa White, deputy director of Rapid City/Pennington County Emergency Management. “And then, of course, for people to think about things that can happen. So whether it’s something like a terrorist attack, which we hope never happens, but natural disasters happen all the time, whether it’s the weather. Here there will be snow, floods, many different things that can happen.

The White House is even urging American citizens to use this month to prepare for disasters, both natural and man-made, especially with wildfires from prolonged drought and coastal flooding.

This year’s slogan is “Create a lasting legacy for your family. When it comes to making plans, you are the best. Make a plan to protect yourself and your loved ones from a natural disaster.

Emergencies can come out of nowhere. White says it’s important to build an emergency kit, which will last you 72 hours alone and possibly without power.


Home Emergency Kits should include:

  • Water – one gallon per person, per day
  • Non-perishable food – three-day supply: canned food, energy bars, per person
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Radio – battery operated, have extra batteries on hand
  • First aid kit – bandages, antiseptic, ointment, gloves, gauze
  • Tools – pliers, whistle (for asking for help), can opener for canned goods
  • Hygiene basics – toilet paper, soap, hand sanitizer, garbage for sanitation
  • Documents – copies of social security cards, insurance information, prescription lists, phone numbers
  • Clothing – one set for each person, including sturdy shoes
  • Money – cash or travelers checks

Vehicle Emergency Kits should include:

  • A shovel
  • Windshield scraper and broom
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Battery operated radio
  • Water
  • Snacks, including energy bars
  • Matches and small candles
  • Extra hats, socks and mittens
  • First aid kit with pocket knife
  • Medicines needed
  • Blankets or sleeping bag
  • Tow chain or rope
  • Road salt, sand or kitty litter for traction
  • Jumper cables
  • Emergency flares and reflectors
  • Fluorescent hazard flag and whistle to attract attention
  • Mobile phone adapter to plug into a lighter

Both kits can include other items based on your personality, like medicine, food for a pet you have, or even things your kids can make like a deck of cards or coloring books.

For children, talk with them about disasters that could happen and discuss each emergency plan. If they understand what to do, children are more likely to stay calm if a situation arises.

“It can almost be a game that you could play with your family and kids and see and talk through it. Because if the kids are prepared and they won’t be scared and they’ll feel more, “well, someone told me to do this.” That’s why I took this step, ‘and they will remember it,’ White said. “And sometimes they’ll help the rest of the family say, ‘well, that’s what you said,’ when you’re a little upset and trying to figure out what I want to take or what I want TO DO. “

Although some may occur more often than others, the Black Hills can experience natural disasters such as tornadoes, snowstorms, heat awareness, wildfires, floods, thunderstorms and storms of hail.

“Just to think about how you’re prepared and how you’ve taken care of things for your family ahead of time so that when they happen you’re not thrown into a loop, but maybe that you just have to do something a little bit different,” adds White. “But that’s okay because you’ve thought about it and prepared for it in advance.”

Even in Rapid City’s history, water flooded the streets and snow piled on itself.

“And then the 1972 floods were flash floods that killed a lot of people. 283 people. “It’s still raining here and it can still rain a lot in a short time. So having that flash flood is definitely something that can happen again.”

“Our big storm in 2013, what we like to call the Winter Storm Atlas, came October 4, and it was 80 degrees two days before. So when the weather service predicted over 15 inches of snow, we all thought, “I’m not sure that’s really going to happen.” I can not believe it. And then it did and killed a lot of cattle, it took us two months to recover,” White said. “Almost every tree in the area was snapped, it seemed. So cleaning up the debris was a very big deal, which took several months.

Not only is it important to be prepared at home, but you should be aware of the different protocols that work or school may have.

You can visit the RCPC Emergency Management website for more information or follow them on Facebook or Twitter. The Department of Homeland Security’s Ready Campaign can also provide you with more information.

As in most situations, it is better to have and not need than to need and not have.

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