In the past year alone, West Virginia has experienced four federally declared disasters prompting nearly 4,200 households to seek disaster assistance. As a result, state and federal officials have distributed nearly $20 million in disaster relief funds and loans to homeowners, renters and business owners across 37 counties. Still think you don't need to worry about being prepared?
September is National Preparedness Month, the perfect time to make plans to protect yourself, your family and your business.
Getting started is easy. One of the simplest things you and your family can do is to begin putting together an emergency supply kit. On your next trip to the grocery store, pick up a few items to get the ball rolling, such as non-perishable/canned food, bottled water, a flashlight and extra batteries.
Keep adding to the kit each week or month until you and your family members have enough food, water and supplies to sustain yourselves for a few days (the Randolph County Office of Emergency Management suggests seven days) in the aftermath of a disaster.
Your emergency supply kit should contain the following minimum items: one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation; at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food (again, the Randolph County OEM recommends a seven-day supply); a battery powered radio and extra batteries; a flash light and extra batteries; a first aid kit; a whistle for signaling for help; a mask or cotton T-shirt to help filter the air; moist towelettes for sanitation; a wrench or pliers for turning off utilities; a manual can opener; plastic sheeting and duct tape for sheltering in place; garbage bags and plastic ties; and, very importantly, unique family needs such as daily prescription medications, infant formula and/or diapers and import family documents (if they aren't stored in safety deposit boxes).
Some pharmacies, according to information presented at a recent Local Emergency Planning Committee meeting, will permit prescription holders to purchase one extra prescription for inclusion in the family emergency kit. (Check with your local pharmacy for details.)
Preparing makes sense. The likelihood that you and your family will survive a house fire depends as much on having a working smoke detector and an exit strategy as on a well-trained fire department. The same is true for surviving a terrorist attack or other emergency. We must have the tools and plans in place to make it on our own, at least for a period of time, no matter where we are when disaster strikes. Just like having a working smoke detector, preparing for the unexpected makes sense.
There are four easy steps in preparing for disasters. First, assemble your emergency supply kit. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it for several days, maybe longer. While there are many things that will make you more comfortable, think first about fresh water, food and clean air.
Consider assembling two kits. In one, put everything you will need to stay where you are and make it on your own. The other should be a lightweight smaller version you can take with you if you have to get away.
Second, make a plan for what you will do in an emergency. Develop a family communications plan. Consider a plan where each family member calls or e-mails a friend or relative in the event of an emergency. Create a plan to shelter-in-place and one to use in the event you will have to get away. Know existing emergency plans at your children's school and at your place of work.
Third, be informed about what might happen. The website www.ready.gov contains a wealth of information on how to prepare for emergencies.
The Randolph County OEM, in cooperation with the Randolph County LEPC, also has a two-part program that's available any day or evening of the week. The programs are designed to help residents learn about what has and is being done to protect them in the event of an emergency or warn them of a pending emergency and what they can, and should, do to take care of themselves in the event of an emergency. They can be scheduled for presentation by calling the Randolph County OEM at 304-636-0483.
Last, is get involved in preparing the community for disasters. Volunteers are needed in every phase of emergency mitigation. To volunteer, contact the local chapter of the American Red Cross at American Red Cross North Central West Virginia Chapter, 718 W. Pike Street, Clarksburg, West Virginia 26301 or call 304-624-7689. They may also be contacted by logging on to www.redcross.org.
It's fair season and according to promotional information, organizers this year are looking to have the largest Randolph County Fair in its seven-year history. The fair's mission is to promote, educate and showcase Randolph County by highlighting its unique rural heritage, youth, community and agricultural lifestyles. This year's fair is scheduled for Sept. 17-18.
Kadra Casseday, arts and crafts show chairwoman, said, "Over the past five years, the fair has grown considerably. We have increased our attendance dramatically by adding many new events and appealing to the many different interests of Randolph and surrounding county residents."
Some of the events included in this year's event are professional bull riding, barrel racing, a demolition derby, the West Virginia Open Fiddle and Banjo Championship, horse show, draft horse pull, arts and craft show, produce and culinary exhibits, a photo contest, 4-H project exhibit and much more.
For those West Virginia University football fans who might not attend for fear of missing the game, you can watch the pre-game and game on the big-screen TV right there on the fairgrounds.
For more information or to submit suggestions and inquiries, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those attending the Downtown Merchants Meeting on Aug. 24 focused a great deal of attention on "long-range same-day-of-the-week advertising programs." Taking cues from advertising efforts of other locations, they are looking for input regarding advertising campaigns that feature special sales on the same day of succeeding weeks.
The thinking is that if people get used to special sales events occurring on the same day of the week, week after week, they will be more inclined to attend the sales. The common wisdom is that this may eventually reduce advertising costs. Once people get used to a certain sales event on a certain day of the week or weekend, advertising costs may be reduced.
If you have an idea or suggestion, stop by and join the meetings. They take place at Ceramics with Class at 203 Davis Ave. every other Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.
Those attending the meeting on Tuesday rehashed the abolishment of the free parking spaces in town and the difference in parking meter rates. The rate at meters on one side of the street may be one price while meters on the opposite side of the street may be another. Mayor Duke Talbott suggested that parking meters were a "break even" venture at best. Because of that, it was suggested that they be totally abolished, which, if done, would present another set of problems. Once delved into, one sees that parking in town is not a simple matter at all. There are many considerations involved.
Nancy Barlow, executive secretary of the Randolph County Development Authority, announced at Tuesday's Merchants Meeting that the Farmer's Market is now accepting food stamps. This will be effective today.