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It is never too late to plan for emergencies Print
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Much has changed since the floods of 2004 to help make Haywood County more prepared in the event of another emergency. The Hurricane Recovery Act, adopted in 2005 by the North Carolina General Assembly, gave us the means to move about 60 families to new homes out of the flood plain, and assist 26 other in making repairs. Funds from the Hurricane Recovery Act also gave us the means to repair bridges, roads and stream banks, improve our flood mapping and develop many other programs that have helped increase protection for our citizens in the event of another disaster.

There are also several other cooperative efforts between governmental and community agencies. For example, on a quarterly basis, our Local Emergency Planning Council, which includes representatives from 23 agencies, meets to talk about emergency preparedness and what we need to do to be improve the county’s Emergency Operations Plan. Some of the plans we’ve developed from that effort include:

  • An assessment of all foreseeable threats to Haywood County, including natural disasters, hazardous materials, public health emergencies and others;
  • Plans for evacuating persons with special needs and opening a special needs shelter if necessary;
  • Plans for opening a shelter for pets

A new project is now getting underway to promote good fire safety in our homes and businesses. Called Save Our Students (SOS), in honor of the children who lost their lives, the program encourages households to take basic steps, such as installing and checking smoke alarms, checking for fire hazards, and making evacuation plans.

Thre is no time like the present to make a fire safety and emergency preparation plan for yourself, your family or your business. For tips on how to take those steps, click here for numerous links to good information and ideas.

An important part of being prepared is looking beyond the needs of your own household to the needs of your neighbors and your community. Since 2005, the Haywood County Citizen Corps has worked to coordinate volunteer activities to help prepare citizens for disaster.

For example, the Citizen Corps has promoted citizens to complete 9-1-1 Alert forms hat provides invaluable information to our 9-1-1 Communications Center about your medical conditions and special needs. The information is kept in a secure database that is only accessible to 9-1-1 communications staff, but it could provide invaluable assistance if emergency personal are ever called to your home. The forms are available by clicking here, or at many local human service agencies or by calling the 9-1-1 Communications Center at 452-6600.

The Citizen Corps has also promoted the development of Community Emergency Response Teams, which are trained to provide first aid and other services in a set geographic area if it becomes cut off from emergency personnel. If you’d like find out more or consider developing a CERT team in your community, contact Emergency Services at 456-2391.

With our highly trained and proactive Emergency Services Team, and dozens of community partners that are equally trained and prepared to assist us when needed, Haywood County is committed to doing all we can to respond to disasters. We urge you to take some time this month to better prepare yourselves, your family and your community.

If you have questions, or want more information, contact the Haywood County Public Information Office at 828-452-7305.