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Front Page » August 26, 2004 » Local News » Organization plays key role in handling emergency situations
Published 3,522 days ago

Organization plays key role in handling emergency situations


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate community editor

The recent ramage of Hurricane Charlie through Florida, which wrecked havoc on the west coast and central part of the state, was basically unexpected in scope and destruction.

Even in the last few hours before the storm hit, it was expected that the storm would not be terribly strong initially and would die out quickly. But all the experts were wrong.

Florida lies in the path of numerous powerful and destructive storms year after year.

In the Midwestern United States, residents are plagued by tornadoes on a regular basis. The northeastern part of the country often gets hit by large ice storms. Earthquakes, wildfires and rains frequently bombard the West Coast with destructive mudslides..

The Mountain West seems to get a spattering of almost everything except the full force of hurricanes.

In recent years, tornadoes have appeared in Ephraim and downtown Salt Lake. The August1999 tornado plowed across the Delta Center and through Memory Grove.

In the last couple of years, local residents along with government officials have been organizing to provide services for the Carbon County area should the worst happen.

Emergency plans for disaster, and of course a terrorist attack, the newest threat on the block, are being worked on daily.

Local civilian emergency response teams are being set up in Price and are being considered for other towns as well.

But in a natural disaster or an emergency situation, all residents need to be prepared - not just the members of special committees or government agencies. Committees and government agencies cannot be everywhere at once.

Problems that exist in Florida as a result of the hurricane extend beyond the destruction of residences and businesses. Lives have become disorganized and jobs have been wiped out. People often think only about the physical destruction of a disaster, not the aftermath that continues for months and years after.

One of the things thousands of Florida residents are facing is the loss of personal records, either blown away or ruined by rain and flood water. In some cases even bank deposit boxes have been inundated by the floods. Just look at the photos of any disaster, and there is always a lot of paper laying around. The paper most often comes from file cabinets and drawers that were exposed to the elements during the disaster.

Experts indicate, however, that much of the problem can be alleviated by personal organization. Many people just shove important papers into file folders and put them in a filing cabinet or a drawer that in a disaster becomes a messy glop of paper in water or is destroyed partially by fire.

Here are some ideas for keeping personal and important papers organized and decipherable after a disaster.

•Label all storage, filing cabinets and files for quick and simple access should an emergency occur. Handwriting on files and drawers could easily be erased by water that may come from natural sources or from the suppression of a fire. Use a professional labeler to put names on all files and drawers.

•Everything of importance needs to be filed and organized properly. Jamming various paper, receipts and other items into a file folder is hard to manage when things are normal; in the aftermath of a disaster it is much worse.

This is particularly true with important papers such as vehicle and property titles, stock certificates, birth records, socials security information, etc. Be sure that each category has its own file folder that is clearly labeled, even if that file has only one document in it.

Every file should have a clearly labeled tab, done with a labeler rather than in handwriting or with a paper computer label.

•Make sure everyone in the family or residence knows where important papers are stored. This could help in an emergency should residents have time to evacuate and take important items out of the home.

•For many people organization of personal papers is the least of their worries. However, there is help. A number of file folder companies and others have sites on the internet to help aide those who are organizationally challenged.



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