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Officials urge county residents to be prepared for emergencies

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Published on: Wednesday, September 18, 2013

By Tauren Dyson

The Community Coffee Roundtable met last Wednesday on the 12th anniversary of 9/11 to commemorate the tragic event and address the importance of emergency preparedness — just five days before the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard.

“Be personally prepared to stick it out while the government is spinning up to support them (the community),” said Randy Sena, Joint Base Andrews chief of exercises. “It’s important for us to understand what is potential threat to our daily life … and here in the capital region, it’s quite a bit.”

Sena said as chief on base, he leads exercises — many of which last for a week — at least once a month in preparation of any emergency. He said to the more than 70 people on hand at the roundtable that the civilian community should stay prepared too. He recommended that communities off base practice at least every three months and make sure to have plenty of supplies saved up in case of an emergency.

“Just know how to evacuate, when to evacuate; know how to shelter in place, when you need to shelter in place, how to save water, how to save energy, and just knowing what to do,” Sena said. “If we take that kind of personal responsibility, to prepare ourselves for those 48 to 72 hour processes, we know at a certain point somebody will be able to come and help.”

In most communities, high schools and other public buildings, double as evacuation shelters.

Still, most emergencies aren’t disasters. Some come in the form of mandatory water shutdowns, such as the one that more than 100,000 Prince George’s residents faced in July.

Joyce Evans worked in emergency management and makes a point of keeping her family on point when it comes to being prepared at home. That means thinking of which medicines to have stocked up and whether to build additional shelves to store emergency supplies.

“I probably have 10 gallons of water, and that’s just the stuff I keep on hand, which is enough for the three of us for three days,” the Fort Washington resident said. “You have to think about what you have and think about the things for need to store beforehand.”

The county’s website has more information on what to do and who to contact in case of an emergency.

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