Wild weather, quake are good reminders for preparation effort

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

One of Gazette founder Harry Strunk's lasting legacies is the lake north of Cambridge that bears his name, honoring his efforts to create irrigation and flood control dams on the Republican River.

Those dams have helped prevent a repeat of the 1935 flood that killed 110 people and 20,593 head of livestock and damaged 275,000 acres of farmland.

They've made our region a safer place, but this Labor Day weekend proves river flooding isn't the only danger we face.

Southwest Nebraska and Northwest Kansas are under a flash flood watch for this afternoon -- again.

Downpours over the weekend have already created enough flooding to close McCook's Barnett Park, and while McCook Ben Nelson Regional Airport reported a total of 5.06 inches of rain, many unofficial reports of several inches more than that were received, along with golf-ball size hail.

To top that off, some of us felt an earthquake Saturday morning, a record 5.6 magnitude temblor in north-central Oklahoma that was felt from Texas to Illinois and as far as Arizona as well as Nebraska.

Fortunately, no one was injured in this weekend's wild weather or earthquake, but they're good reminders of the need to be prepared -- just the point of September's National Preparedness Month.

Bryan Tuma, assistant director of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, urges all Nebraskans to make an emergency plan with their families.

Yes, it might be a flood or earthquake, but a tornado or blizzard is more likely in our corner of the world. Or, heaven forbid, it might be a manmade disaster -- we don't want to think about that, but we've not been untouched by terrorism or even war.

"Make that plan today, and be prepared to take care of yourselves for at least 72 hours after a disaster," said Tuma in promoting this year's theme, "Don't Wait. Communicate."

They've done plenty of planning and preparing, but local officials and relief workers may not be able to help everyone immediately after a disaster, so it's important to have your own food and water supplies and other essentials available in the event of an emergency.

Planning is important for everyone, but especially families, pet owners, senior citizens and people with functional needs as well as those who work in agriculture, business, health care facilities and schools. Guidance is available at www.bereadynebraska.com, a site maintained by Nebraska local emergency managers.

"Plans should include where to meet if a home is destroyed and include a list of important personal information, including medical information for every family member," Tuma said. "Our health and the health of our loved ones could very well depend on our kit and our plan if there is a major disaster.

It should include seasonal needs such as extra water for hydration and bug repellent in the summer and warm clothes and sleeping bags for the winter.

Store it where you can find it easily and take it with your quickly.

"The best-supplied kit may not do any good if you can't take it with you, he said.

Set up a buddy system with nearby families to be able to take care of each other until help arrives.

You can keep up with the latest tips and information from NEMA on Facebook or Twitter.

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