Prepared and with a plan

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – September is National Preparedness Month and David Ivan and Becky Horne, Belmont County Emergency Management Agency officials, visited county commissioners Wednesday to speak about the importance of maintaining awareness and having plans in place for both natural and human-made disasters.

“Anytime is the time to be prepared,” Ivan said. “September in Belmont County has historical significance from eight years ago. We saw the remnants of Hurricanes Francis and then Ivan 13 days later. Those two storms in particular ended up creating over $40 million dollars worth of damage just to infrastructure in the county.”

Ivan noted that in this time of financial strain and limited resources, responders are relying on individuals to be prepared should disaster strike. Depending on the nature of the event and the forewarning, it could take as long as days to launch a response.

“We have to put more and more emphasis on the individuals being ready. They have to fend for themselves for a certain period before we can start getting resources in,” he said. “We preach preparedness every day. Hopefully people start taking it to heart.”

He said on an individual level, the watchword is awareness of one’s surroundings and not to succumb to complacency. This can come in a form as simple as planning routes out of one’s residence in the event of a fire, along with posting emergency numbers and arranging a meeting place. Ivan recommended extending that thinking into the workplace and when traveling.

“One of the things we’re trying to push is for people to have a plan in place so they know what to do when these situations happen,” he said.

Another piece of advice for homeowners is to be aware of the equipment in their residence, possible sources of fire or ignition, and the gas, water and electric shutoffs.

Ivan advised people to be aware that disasters on an individual and grand scale can affect them. He added that when an order to evacuate is given, the wisest move is to comply.

Commissioner Charles R. Probst Jr. noted that Ohio sometimes does not declare a state of emergency in advance as other states have done in anticipation of an expected event such as a storm. Commissioners can declare a state of emergency locally.

Also, he noted that emergency routes for St. Clairsville, Martins Ferry, Union Local and Barnesville school buildings have been completed and educators will be trained in their compliance.

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