Local business buying in to National Preparedness Month

September 24, 2018

The old adage that failing to prepare is preparing to fail might be a bit cliché, but Platte County Emergency Manager Tim Hofbauer believes wholeheartedly it’s a true statement in regard to being ready when emergency situations arise.

Once again, September is serving as National Preparedness month, and Hofbauer hopes that area families take the time to sit down and take a few minutes to put together a plan of attack so they can efficiently tackle any emergency situation they face.

“If we have something happen, and you have to be away from your home for some time, you may have to go spend some time with a friend or stay in a shelter,” Hofbauer said during a Thursday interview with The Telegram. “In that case, having things ready and prepared to go with you is a big deal. Having a suitcase or big bag ready that you can just take with you in a hurry.”

These travel bags are referred to as survival kits, and generally include vital items like important documents, any prescription medications, spare clothing, water, non-perishable food items and any other items deemed valuable.

Many families take proper steps in regard to preparing for adverse situations, but in many cases, it’s parents doing the mental legwork. From 10 a.m. through 2 p.m. today, children have the chance to learn how to respond in emergency situations from a wide array of local law enforcement and first responders during the annual Kid Safety Day held by Mike Fleming, owner of Mikes Auto Sales, 1858 33rd Ave.

The event started more than 20 years ago as a way for young parents to learn the ins and outs of properly buckling up their young children, but gradually evolved into an outing where children and families could learn all about being prepared for a variety of situations they might encounter down the road.

“Now today, there are over 30 volunteers that come in from a bunch of different businesses; and there’s a bunch of different professionals that come in and help out,” Fleming said.

Hofbauer said that the event provides families an invaluable learning opportunity.

“It’s a great way for parents to bring their kids to see first responders first hand and pick up information on fire safety, disaster safety and just all sorts of helpful information that kids can use to help them understand what to do in case of a disaster or emergency,” he said. “They can understand who these responders are and what they are here to do.”

Fleming said a variety of booths will be set up throughout the afternoon. At each booth, children will have the chance to learn a little something new and then have a sheet checked off noting that they stopped by. If they stop by every booth at the venue, they then can swing by Runza to pick up a free meal, he added.

The emergency manager said that in Platte County, the majority of disaster situations stem from flooding, high winds, severe thunderstorms and occasionally, tornadoes.

This spring, Hofbauer recalled the flooding of Shell Creek stemming from several heavy rains. Typically, he said, flooding happens in the early spring on bigger bodies of water like the Platte and Loup rivers when ice jams break up causing spillage over bank; along with late-spring flooding triggered by heavy seasonal rainfall.

While Platte County certainly has seen its fair share of monetary loss over the years associated with rain, hail, winds and storms, Hofbauer said he’s been on-site for many real tragedies in other Nebraska communities.

While it’s impossible to fully prepare for a tornado or colossal storm, he said he knows some families wish they would have been better prepared.

“I’ve seen people coming back the next day to see what is left of their homes, and sometimes they don’t have anything left at all,” he said. “We will ask for identification and they won’t have that, and a lot of them weren’t able to take anything with them at all … Not having things ready to go and not having what they need really poses a big problem for them.”

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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