Forum focuses attention on disaster preparedness

June 26th, 2015 8:55 am

First Posted: 5/16/2013

PLAINS TWP. — FEMA Community Recovery Planner Michelle Harel offered these words of advice during Thursday’s Disaster Preparedness Forum at Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technical Center: “If you’re prepared, you can be ready for just about anything.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency official outlined the many ways people can prepare themselves, their families and pets to cope with, and quickly recover from, a natural or man-made disaster.

She advised people at the sparsely attended event to set up a “shelter in place” kit with enough emergency supplies, food and water to last at least three days for each person and pet if they are confined to their homes.

“Why should you be prepared for a disaster?” she asked. “Emergency responders aren’t always available, and it just makes sense.”

Sponsored by FEMA and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the event featured informational booths from organizations such as the American Red Cross, The Commission on Economic Opportunity, The Salvation Army and Shickshinny Forward.

“What we want to do is get other municipalities involved,” said Charles Krommes, EMA coordinator for Plains Township and president of Valley United, a group of area residents and officials from municipalities in flood-affected areas.

The goal of Valley United, which was formed in the aftermath of the region’s 2011 flooding, is to put together a recovery plan, allowing for minimal losses and a speedy return to normal in the event of a disaster.

“The biggest problem is that everyone looks at this as flood-related only, but there’s other disasters that occur,” said Krommes. “Whether it be the shooting in Connecticut, floods, snowstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes or power plant emergencies, whatever disaster occurs, there’s always a recovery that has to take place, both short- and long-term.”