Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

October 16, 2005

Residents should prepare for disasters

Howard County, like so many other local jurisdictions in the Baltimore-Washington Region, takes emergency preparedness very seriously. As we saw on Sept. 11, 2001, and more recently in Louisiana and Mississippi, disaster can strike quickly, without warning, and at a magnitude that is often difficult for us to imagine.

As County Executive, it is my responsibility to take the precautions I know are necessary to protect those who call Howard County "home," those who work here and even those who are visiting. That's why I'm setting aside the week of Oct. 16-22 and declaring it the first-ever "Community Readiness Week" in Howard County.

During that week, Howard County Government - in cooperation with the Community Emergency Response Network (CERN) is conducting a week-long campaign to encourage individuals, families and businesses to think about plans they can and should make to be better prepared in case of disaster.

If each individual can find at least one way to be better prepared during this week, it will be a significant step forward.

Most of the ideas are common sense. For example, if you don't already have an in-home emergency supply kit, now would be a good time to assemble one. It should contain a working flashlight, backup batteries, a battery- or crank-operated radio and a three-day supply of bottled water (one gallon per person per day). A simple dinner table conversation to discuss plans about "what to do if" is another way to help improve your family's situation if a disaster strikes.

I want our citizens to understand that whenever emergencies do occur - whether they are natural disasters like a severe snowstorm, or ones that are man-made - local officials, especially those who have devoted their lives to public safety, will do all they can to help.

Unfortunately, in a large-scale event we may not be able to get that help to you as quickly as we would like; and often, the best and safest alternative might be for you to remain in your own home or place of business and "shelter in place." That's why self-sufficiency is so important.

During "Community Readiness Week," it is my hope that each person accepts at least some of the responsibility themselves; and, makes plans to ensure that their basic needs and those of their families will be met until help arrives or the emergency ends.

James N. Robey

County Executive

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