I was watching a television series with my husband a couple of years ago about a town that was hit by a tornado. It was Greensburg, Kansas and it was hit by the strongest tornado on record. It totally, completely, decimated the entire town. There were only one or two buildings or structures in the entire town that was left standing or was inhabitable. Everything that had made that town was gone, everything that is except the people. Yes, some moved away and it was too much for even the mayor and he resigned and moved away. But there were those who caught the vision to rebuild.
It was going to be interesting to watch this series to see how the town turned around and regained the spirit that was once there. Even though I had just watched the first show, I knew it will be an interesting lab of human emotions and human behavior that we can all learn from and to think about what we might do if something that tragic happened here.
What keeps you in this community? Is it your job? Would you pick up and get another job in another nice little community and start over? Is it family ties? Did you grow up here and want to stay here to the very end? What makes you want to be where you are? It is something to think about.
The reason that I started to think about this was not the long-term implications of a disaster, but the immediate problems of the aftermath. The carnage, as one resident described it, the rescues and the losses, personal and monetary. I saw footage of people being rescued; people huddled in shock, crying, serious wounds and minor wounds – both to the body and the spirit.
As I watched people trying to rescue other people that were trapped, I got really concerned. I was hoping that they knew what they were doing and that they didn’t become injured themselves while trying to rescue somebody else. It took 12 men to pull a truck off the top of an elderly gentleman that had taken refuge in his basement. The truck was hanging over the foundation and had pinned the man underneath it. His leg was crushed, but he was alive. They did get the truck off of him, but how? Did they have equipment to safely block it up? Did they just use brute strength? I don’t know.
The city manager made the comment that he had never seen such a disaster and that he didn’t even know where to start, but he had to get things under control and set something up real quick or the situation would go from bad to worse in no time at all.
Our area has never seen such devastation before either, but I do know that our city leaders have taken a pro-active approach and have taken steps to plan for just about any disaster that they can think of. That doesn’t mean that it will all run smoothly or be very comfortable, but it is a really good start.
What I am concerned about is us, the citizens. We are either going to be part of the problem or we are going to be part of the solution. The government, relief agencies can help to get things going for us after the fact, but ultimately it is our responsibility to, as they say, to “step up to the plate.”
Salem, the town that I live in, needs a city CERT leader. Have you got the qualifications to co-lead the city with city officials during a disaster and immediately help those who need help and direction? You don’t have to do it all by yourself, but you do need to be a leader that can assess the situation and effectively lead, follow through and be a finisher. If you can do that, go put your application in to the city – today.
Everyone else needs to, at the very least, become CERT trained, and if you are interested in doing more, I know that the city ambulance and fire crews are always looking for willing volunteers (I know this because they have a sign posted out in front of the city offices).
When a disaster strikes here, and it will, let’s not worry about how we are going to get our community set up to take care of things. Let’s instead worry about how fast we can activate our trained, confidently skilled, citizens in our community to make things “all better.”
What do you say? Should we step up to the plate? Yes! And then let’s hit a post disaster “home-run!”