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Monday, August 25, 2014

Be Disaster Aware; Take Action to Prepare

Preparing yourself and your family before disaster strikes is emphasized throughout the year, but particularly during September which is celebrated as National Preparedness Month.

Research indicates that individuals who believe they are personally prepared for disasters are often not as prepared as they think. And some admit they have no plans in place.

“Our public safety officials, law enforcement, and first responders do an outstanding job of keeping us safe, but they cannot do it alone,” stated County Executive Dennis Levinson. “Each one of us must accept responsibility for ourselves and our families. By doing so we help to ensure the safety of our communities.”

The Atlantic County Office of Emergency Preparedness works year round to enhance emergency preparedness and response efforts. Since Superstorm Sandy, it has developed partnerships with 16 agencies to provide shelter facilities for the general population, the medically needy, and pets during large scale disasters. It has also acquired supplies and equipment for sheltering, mass feeding and recovery operations.

The office also trains personnel and community volunteers in shelter operations and management. To date more than 250 individuals have participated in training this year.

“The difficulty is not knowing how many people will require sheltering and for how long. People must understand that shelters are a last resort, providing only basic accommodations to temporarily place them out of harm’s way,” noted Vince Jones, Atlantic County Emergency Management Coordinator.

“Their first option should be to seek shelter with family or friends, or to find lodging outside the area. Shelters are not designed for comfort; but rather for safety.”

Jones stressed the importance for residents to make and discuss plans should they ever need to evacuate. This includes identifying both a local and out-of-area friend or relative with whom they may stay, learning which roadways serve as evacuation routes, and preparing a disaster supply kit for their home and vehicle.

Residents will find this information and more on the Atlantic County emergency information website at:

Individuals who are interested in receiving disaster preparedness education and training are encouraged to become members of the county’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). CERT members may provide immediate care, stabilization and information prior to the arrival of first responders in addition to assistance at emergency operation centers and evacuation shelters as needed. For more information, call (609) 407-6764 or email:

“Preparedness is the key,” stated Levinson. “It is far less stressful to prepare now, than to try to do so during an emergency.”

The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs through November 30.

“We have been very fortunate so far this year, but as we are all too well aware we often experience severe weather during the months of September, October and November,” added Jones, “which makes it even more imperative to take this time to prepare.”

Click here to learn more.

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