By Brian Hagberg
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Americans are encouraged to prepare and plan for natural and man-made disasters this September as the Federal Emergency Management Agency celebrates National Preparedness Month and kicks off the America’s PrepareAthon! campaign.
The campaign will focus on a different emergency planning message each week throughout the month. The Schriever Emergency Management office has tailored the campaign to meet the specific needs of the base, removing the focus on hurricanes and power outages and replacing them with tornadoes and active shooter themes.
“Disasters come in many forms,” said Staff Sgt. Ramon Trejo, 50th Civil Engineer Squadron readiness and emergency management specialist. “Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety and losses that accompany these disasters.”
The five-week campaign will focus on creating emergency plans for floods, wildfires, tornadoes, active shooters and winter weather.
“Individuals, families and communities should know what to do in the event of a fire and where to seek shelter during a tornado,” Trejo said. “Knowing what to expect and how to prepare makes any crisis more manageable.”
El Paso County has already experienced a number of emergency scenarios this year, including the July 28 hail storm which resulted in more than $352 million in damage, and the rain and hail storm Aug. 29 which resulted in massive flooding in Colorado Springs.
“The recent natural disasters are a prime example of the importance of having an emergency plan in place,” Trejo said.
The total flood damage cost for El Paso County in 2013 was $12.27 million, according to the El Paso County Hazard Mitigation Plan. Much of the damage occurred along the Waldo Canyon burn scar.
“Hydrologists from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Burned Area Emergency Response Team, and the National Weather Service have cautioned that areas downstream of the Waldo Canyon Fire burn scar may experience a 100-year flood every 10 years until the burned vegetation and soils regenerate,” the plan says.
Flash floods can happen anywhere, but those members living near either the Waldo Canyon or Black Forest Fire burn scars should be prepared for more severe flooding.
“Post-fire conditions in El Paso County will result in higher flows, more debris and the potential for water to overflow channels and embankments causing significant additional damage,” the plan says. “Given these conditions, the flood hazard is considered to be critical.”
While Schriever hasn’t felt the brunt of this summer’s storms, it has had weather issues in the past and members should have an emergency plan in place for their work center.
“At Schriever, the primary hazards to plan for are severe thunderstorms, and flooding which results from them, tornados, wildfires, severe winter weather and a possible active shooter event in the work place,” Trejo said. “Individuals should have a plan on how to contact their household members and how to relocate them to a safe location.”
The Readiness and Emergency Management Flight can help members plan for any emergency situation.
“Installation personnel can contact the office in regards to preparing their unit for any viable event which may impact the installation,” Trejo said. “The R&EM Flight also assists units with building their emergency and shelter-in-place kits.”
While each disaster has its own method of preparation, two common factors are to have an emergency plan and put together an emergency kit.
According to ready.gov, some items to include in an emergency kit are a first aid kit, whistle, local maps, cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger, wrench or pliers and moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
Templates for creating emergency plans are also available on the ready.gov website.