By Jean Clark
It seems as if we have been surrounded by natural disasters recently — floods, fires, tornados, hurricanes, etc. One can never know when something will strike close to home, but can at least plan for such an eventuality.
Uplands Village in Pleasant Hill has established a disaster committee involving the staff and Residents’ Assembly to consider necessary steps in case of such a happening. The Village participated in the countywide mock disaster on June 25. “Actors” took part in the live test. Two types of disaster plans were created involving the Village independent residents, Fletcher House for Assisted Living and Wharton Homes residents. One plan is for a situation that requires the entire Village to evacuate to a safe shelter and the other involves neighborhoods establishing emergency shelters. Cheryl Heckler, manager of Village Services at Uplands, is organizing the preparation.
Independent residents are organized in nine neighborhoods with representatives to the assembly. Each neighborhood has met to formulate its own plan, designating one or more sites for people to gather in case a temporary shelter is needed. Each neighborhood has also talked about evacuation plans, sharing cell phone numbers, contact information and transportation capabilities.
Members of the disaster committee — Rich Nelson (277-3797) and Will Rabert (248-0021) — have published the following advice, “In the event of a sudden disaster that has little or no warning, you need to have a safe place that you have chosen. Go to your basement with no windows or windows far removed, where you cannot get cut by broken and blown glass fragments. If your home has no basement or even an adequate crawl space, find a hallway that again has no glass. If you are still at a loss where you would be the safest, get into your bathtub or shower, or a closet with a mattress, or pillows and blankets to put over you. You need to be at the lowest possible level in your home. For those with a stairwell, that can be your safe place. Be sure to have a phone with you. Let your disaster team captain know where your safe place in your home will be. This would aid the first responders in searching for those who cannot be found.”
NOAA weather radios have been available at a reasonable cost by local merchants who will set them for local county information. On the radio will be broadcast local weather and predictions, storm or pending disaster warnings or watches and even Amber Alerts for missing children or older adults. In the event of a predicted tornado or a disaster requiring evacuation, the battery backup will keep everyone posted locally.
In early September, Keith Garrison, director, and Jill Lewis, assistant director with the Crossville-Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency, were guest speakers at an Uplands Disaster Expo. Garrison expounded on some necessary provisions that everyone should have on hand in event of necessary evacuation from your home.
You should have at least a three-day supply of medications, a gallon of water per person per day, a “go-bag,” your cell phone and a list of contact persons. The “go-bag” could be a backpack containing a first aid kit, portable radio (battery, shake or windup), personal item kit (toothbrush and paste, tissues, soap), emergency blanket, rain poncho, 12-hour light sticks, whistle, face mask, storage bag for vital documents, grab and go list. Be ready to add your prescriptions, water and food bars for a three-day supply. Clothing can also be in another bag ready to go to a shelter or hotel, if necessary. Other items to consider are glasses, hearing aids and pets.
Garrison noted that in this area the three most likely events are tornadoes, ice and snow storms, and flooding. Smartphones can be set to receive text emergency alerts. Radio and television stations will be interrupted with emergency messages. Another way to get notification is the Reverse 911 program through Hyper Reach where you can register to receive Emergency Alerts through a cellphone and/or landline phone to alert citizens of incoming or current emergencies in your area. Registration is through the web address at http://www.cumberlandtn911.org.
He stressed that everyone should know how to turn off the water, gas or electricity to his home. The Uplands Village Disaster Committee has arranged for other nursing homes to provide for Wharton Homes’ residents and hotel accommodations in Kentucky, Knoxville or Chattanooga if the whole village had to be evacuated.
Uplands gave away door prizes of NOAA radios and several disaster kits after the discussion. The predominant message for any emergency situation is “forewarned is forearmed."