When disaster strikes, there is no such thing as being too prepared. Wednesday, the Mississippi Municipal League (M.M.L.) convention addressed this issue. Have a plan. That was the main message at the M.M.L.'s preparing for a disaster session Wednesday afternoon. Bill Brown, the M.E.M.A. Chief of Staff, says, “We have a plan at the state level, but our plan doesn't mean much if the locals don't have a plan and we know what they're gonna’ do.”
Jay Hauffstatler, an American Red Cross Executive, says, “We've had many disasters across the state across the last month or so, and as we're in the middle of hurricane season, it's very important to ensure that the communities are prepared.” However, having a plan is only half the battle. Panelists suggested that city officials make a point to exercise that plan and to practice it so that it becomes second nature. When disaster hits is not the time to familiarize yourself with that plan. Brown also says, “Once you make a plan, you have to exercise it, number one, to find out if it's a good plan. You might find out, hey we can't all get into this same closet or bathroom or whatever, or two, that you are sure that everybody knows what to do.”
Jimmy Clyde, the Mayor of Magee, says, “We have our plan and we try to meet every two weeks to review that plan that so everybody knows where their areas of responsibilities are, so when something does happen, you can quickly act to the situation.” Panelists also stressed that being prepared for a disaster does not solely fall on the shoulders of city officials. Citizens need to do their part as well. Brown also says, “Citizens can form their own little groups, kind of like the old neighborhood watch, you know that they help each other.”
Huffstatler closes, “The more resources you can have on hand as you get ready for the storm, the better off you're going to be because you're not as dependent on the cities and counties and they can focus on larger scale debris removal and things like that.”
The American Red Cross suggests that people download their hurricane, tornado, and flood apps. They automatically send alerts to your smart phone when there is a warning in your area. Being prepared at the state, local, and individual level is key to staying safe when disaster hits. The M.M.L. convention wraps up Thursday afternoon.