Personal lessons from Sept. 11

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Special projects editor Jeremy Blomstedt is putting the finishing touches on a special edition to be published Thursday, "Why We Remember," in advance of Sunday's 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

As an afternoon paper, we were able to publish the news of the day as it happened, and the special edition includes a reproduction of our front page as well as personal recollections attempting to put the last 10 years into perspective.

Emergency management was forever changed by the terror attacks.

"It's no longer just go out and watch for storms," said Sheriff Gene Mahon, emergency management director for Red Willow County.

Law enforcement was always vigilent, but now keeps an eye on things like water systems, small airports railroads and transportation systems in general, with the knowledge that all could be targets of terrorism, he said.

Officers watch out for suspicious activity around feedlots as well, as the loss of cattle and hogs would be devastating to our economy.

While terrorism is a new and real danger, Nebraskans are certain to face natural disasters from time to time, including the current flooding on the Missouri River, as well as tornadoes, blizzards, droughts and, yes, hailstorms. Earthquakes are not even out of the question.

That's why the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency is joining FEMA and local agencies to observe and promote National Preparedness Month, with this year's slogan, "A Time to Remember. A Time to Prepare."

"This is a great way for families to network with each other and form a plan that works for everyone," said Pat Gerdes, director of the Region 15 Emergency Management Agency, based in Phelps County but also serving Gosper, Frontier and Hitchcock counties.

By working together as a family on the plan, communication problems that occur during a real-life ordeal may be prevented.

The three basic steps are:

* Get a kit. Collect emergency supplies that you and your family could survive on for up to three days in the event of an emergency. Special planning is required for disabled persons, those requiring medication, and don't forget your pets.

* Make a plan. Plan as a family in advance on what to do in the event of an emergency.

* Be informed. Familiarize yourself and family of threats that could affect you in some way.

* Get involved. Take a first aid or CPR class, or volunteer in a Community Emergency Response Team -- CERT -- program.

Much more information is available at www.ready.gov

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