Officials: Missourians Must be Prepared for Future Disasters

Related Story

CARROLLTON - Carroll County Sheriff Troy Hofstetter said Wednesday he is glad people heeded warnings about floods and blizzards this year.

Hofstetter, who doubles as the county's emergency management director, said local emergency personnel had to perform few rescues during the blizzard because people stayed off the roads. He said residents were ready when the Missouri River overflowed its banks as well.

"I thought we did very, very well," he said. "The community really pulled together."

Gov. Jay Nixon recently declared September Emergency Preparedness Month. Mike O'Connell, a spokesman for the State Emergency Management Agency, said everyone should have at least a three-day supply of food, water and essential medications. This will allow people to survive if emergency crews cannot reach them right away. He recommends having a weather radio, which can switch on automatically to relay warnings. O'Connell thinks people have shown a greater understanding of the need for disaster preparedness in the years since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The month also is a time of reflection for Missouri's emergency managers. O'Connell said many lives were saved in February because of coordinated warnings several days in advance. He said more than 180 agencies from five states responded to the Joplin tornado with remarkable cohesion. While Hofstetter thinks his team handled the blizzard and the flooding very well, he wants his emergency operations center to function more smoothly in the future. He echoed O'Connell's advice about having emergency supplies, adding farmers in his area monitor the Missouri River closely and usually have a stockpile of supplies in case they get cut off from escape routes by rising waters. He also said people need to use common sense during disasters and avoid doing things like driving through flood waters.

"You can't be too prepared," Hofstetter said.