Recent Community Posts

N.C. ranks No. 5 for homes at risk of natural disaster

9/27/2019 (Permalink)

While it's been a relatively quiet hurricane season so far in the warm ocean waters off the coast of North Carolina, a recent RealtyTrack report that ranks communities on their risk factor for natural disasters shows that it's not only coastal property owners who should be on alert.

According to RealtyTrac, Robeson County – specifically Lumberton, near Fayetteville – is tied overall with Georgia's Schley County in terms of risk of natural disasters.

Both communities ranked at "very high risk" or "high risk" for potential damage from hurricanes, wildfires, flooding and tornadoes. The only natural disaster that Lumberton doesn't have to worry too much about is earthquakes, according to the report.

Other North Carolina counties that also ranked at "very high risk" among the top 50 most disaster-prone counties out of 2,318 counties included in the RealtyTrac study were Brunswick, Richmond, Dulplin, Scotland, Cumberland, Onslow and Pender counties, all of which are prone to issues from flooding, hurricanes and wildfires.

Overall, North Carolina ranks fifth in the country for the number of homes that are at high risk or very high risk of natural disaster with 2.3 million homes in targeted counties. California ranks the highest with 8.4 million homes at risk, followed by Florida, New York, New Jersey, then North Carolina.

Wake County, Durham County and most of North Carolina's most populous cities were rated at "high risk" overall, mostly due to the risk of hurricane damage.

Flood Preparation

9/26/2019 (Permalink)

How Can I Prepare My Home for a Flood?

If you live in a flood-prone region, it's crucial to formulate a plan now to protect your family and pets in case bad weather strikes. After your emergency plan is established, you can then learn how to protect your home. These six tips help you prepare your home for a flood in order to limit structural and financial damage in the future.

Elevate Electrical Components

Electrical sockets, switches and wiring should be elevated at least 12 inches above predicted flood levels. This reduces the amount of damage a flood can cause to your home, and it prevents your home from becoming a safety hazard during the recovery period.

If you have a fuel tank in your basement, be sure to anchor it. An unanchored fuel tank can cause serious damage, such as tearing the supply line and spilling oil.

Waterproof Your Basement

Waterproofing your basement typically requires a large sum of money, but this investment pays off if you live in an area that is frequently flooded. Along with waterproofing, set up a sump pump in the basement and a battery-operated backup in case the power goes out during the flood.

Pay Attention to Flood Alerts

You can elevate electrical components and waterproof your basement long before a flood strikes, but some preparation has to be done in the days or hours leading up to a flash flood. Pay attention to the weather, and take flood alerts seriously.

A Flood Watch will be issued when the conditions are right for flooding. This is a good time to protect furniture and important documents. Remember to take action the moment the watch is issued, though, as you'll want to start evacuating before a Flood Warning occurs.

A Flood Warning means that a flood is happening now or going to take place soon.

Move Furniture and Other Valuables to a Safe Place

Once a Flood Watch occurs, move furniture, valuables, and important documents to a safe place. Copies of critical documents like birth certificates or insurance policies should be stored in a waterproof safety box.

Keep in mind that this step should only be taken if you have time to safely evacuate your family. If the flood is likely to occur soon, forget your furniture and head to higher ground.

Pack an Emergency Kit

Store an emergency kit — one you can use after evacuating or when trapped in the house — in your home at all times. This kit should include at least three days' worth of water and food (including 1 gallon [or 4 liters] per person per day), along with essentials like:

  • Flashlights
  • Medications
  • Copies of personal documents
  • Cellphone with chargers

Purchase Flood Insurance

Regular homeowner's insurance does not cover flood damage costs. If your home is located in a flood-prone area, it's a good idea to also purchase flood insurance, which is available to homeowners through the National Flood Insurance Program.

CERT - Community Emergency Response Team

9/24/2019 (Permalink)

Community Emergency Response Team

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates volunteers about disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. CERT offers a consistent, nationwide approach to volunteer training and organization that professional responders can rely on during disaster situations, which allows them to focus on more complex tasks. Through CERT, the capabilities to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters is built and enhanced.

Since 1993, CERT has impacted communities across the country, building essentials skills and capabilities to prepare for and respond to any disaster. There are now CERT programs in all 50 states, including many tribal nations and U.S. territories; each unique to its community but all essential to building a Culture of Preparedness.

The CERT program was designed as a grassroots initiative and specifically structured so that the local and state program managers have the flexibility to form their programs in the way that best suits their communities. CERT volunteers are trained to respond safely, responsibly, and effectively to emergency situations, but they can also support their communities during non-emergency events as well. There are over 2,700 local CERT programs nationwide, with more than 600,000 individuals trained since CERT became a national program.

FEMA’s Community Emergency Response Team Program trains volunteers to prepare for the types of disasters that their community may face. Through hands-on practice and realistic exercises, CERT members:

  • Learn how to safely respond to manmade and natural hazards

  • Help organize basic disaster response

  • Promote preparedness by hosting and participating in community events

Community Preparedness

9/23/2019 (Permalink)

Tips on Setting Concrete Goals

Setting goals helps you be accountable to yourself and also increases accountability within a group. Clear goals at the beginning of a project will also help you determine how your project will work and what role group members can play. Once goals are set, you can track your progress, compare your results with other group members, and figure out what works best so everyone can meet (or exceed) their goals.

Set a service goal and hold yourself accountable. After you have prepared yourself and your family, commit as an individual and as a team to help others:

  • Help at least three people who may need additional assistance in preparing for emergencies (including the frail, elderly, individuals with disabilities, and others with special needs).
  • Conduct a safety drill at home, at work, at school, or at your house of worship.
  • Take a training class in lifesaving skills (CPR, first aid) or emergency response (CERT).
  • Volunteer to help your local emergency responders.

Any of these activities get us one step closer to a safer and more resilient nation. Set your goals high to stretch yourself. Then keep track of how you are doing and have someone responsible for updating the group on how you are progressing toward your goals. You’ll be surprised at how much you can do when you commit, focus, and follow through. Get involved in National Preparedness Month activities in your community. Then keep your commitment. Let’s see what we can do together!

  • As an individual, I will commit to preparing myself and my family this year, including creating a family disaster plan and making sure there are emergency supply kits at my home, my place of work, and in my car.
  • As a team, we will assemble ___ emergency supply kits for others.
  • As an individual, I will talk to ___ friends, family members, neighbors, and co-workers about our personal responsibility to be prepared.
  • As a team, we will commit to ___ number of hours volunteering in disaster preparedness and response.
  • As a team, we will organize ___ disaster drills for evacuating and sheltering-in-place.
  • As an individual, I will complete ___ training in life saving skills.
  • As a team, we will learn about the threats most likely to affect our community.

School Safety

9/17/2019 (Permalink)

School Safety during Emergencies: What Parents Need to Know

As a parent, feeling confident in the safety of your child or children at the school they attend is extremely important. Some of the questions parents have about school safety may be: 
  • How are lockdown drills implemented? 
  • What plans are in place to help kids stay safe? 
  • How can I talk to my child or respond to their questions or anxiety about school safety?

While "school safety" is a broad term with various applications within every school, the information in this article can help parents learn about actions schools across the country are taking to make themselves safer and better prepared for an emergency.

What's the Plan?

All schools should have an organized, systematic emergency operations plan in place to reduce risks or prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from a crisis situation. The types of crises can vary from a death or accident affecting some members of the school community to a natural disaster or community crisis affecting a lot of individuals in the school. Many school districts have a safety coordinator or director, or have assigned this role to one of the district administrators. School faculty and staff are trained to assess the seriousness of incidents and respond according to the plan's established procedures and guidelines.

What parents should do:

While the school staff has been trained and continue to receive guidance on how best to help students, the best advocate for your child is YOU! Ask your child's teacher about the plans the school has in place for emergencies such as fires, blizzards, bomb threats, and armed intruders. You can also ask how often school officials and safety experts meet to discuss safety procedures. While some schools may hesitate to share all components of their plans and strategies, make yourself aware of the information available to you.

Safety Drills Currently Used in Schools

In 2013, the White House released a Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operation Plans. The guide is customized for each type of community, incorporates lessons learned from recent incidents, and responds to the needs and concerns voiced following the recent shootings in Newtown and Oak Creek and the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma.

THANK FIRST RESPONDERS

9/11/2019 (Permalink)

First responders' duties bring them into harm's way every day. Police officers, firefighters and paramedics put themselves on the front lines of dangerous and traumatic events, and it's common to wonder how you can thank these individuals, perhaps lessening the emotional burden of their work.

The following list is just a sampling of the many ways you can show a first responder that you care. These are good ideas to start with, and apply at any time of the year.

1. Cook a meal
Bringing home-cooked food to the local police or fire station can show the local first responder community that you care. Day-to-day life as a police officer, firefighter or paramedic can be stressful and the schedule irregular, meaning that home-cooked meals may be a luxury that will make these first responders grateful. And if you take the meal over yourself, you have a great chance to say a verbal thanks as well. Of course, since an alarm can sound at any time, it may be best if the meal is one that can be returned to later if the diners have to leave off in the middle.

2. Donate to a good cause
There are numerous charity drives in any given community to support the fire departments, police forces and more. A gift to one of these causes can make a material difference in the lives of first responders and the family members. Even if you don't possess the material means to make a big donation, there are plenty of ways to help charities, including organizing or volunteering at a drive or other event.

3. Send a letter of thanks
These days, many people don't take the time to write letters – electronic communication has driven paper out of favor. This means that sending a physical letter thanking first responders for their service may take on greater importance, feeling more personal, permanent and heartfelt than email. If you gather multiple letters from the community and deliver them all at once, the impression on the recipients could be significant.

The first responders in your community will be grateful for your thanks and support.

4. Send a practical gift basket
A gift basket is a classy way to express thanks. If you customize one of these presents to suit the tastes and needs of the local fire department or police force, it could be an incredibly thoughtful choice, one that will make your gratitude clear. Such a basket could include gift cards to restaurants in the area, allowing first responders to relax and unwind with good food between their high-stress assignments.

5. Use word of mouth
When you have a good experience with local first responders, spreading the word either online or in person can do a great service to the department. It's not a direct thanks to the police, fire and paramedic personnel, but speaking well of these individuals is a gesture of gratitude, one that is easy and impactful.

6. Just say 'thanks'
Just about every day, you likely pass police officers, firefighters and paramedics going about their daily business. Just saying a simple "Thank you for your service" can be a great way to show that individual you respect and appreciate what he or she is doing for the community. It's extremely simple, and could make a first responder's day.