Is Illinois Prepared? 

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Images across our TV and computer screens over the past few weeks have shown us the devastation a weather event can cause. Though weather models predicted that massive hurricanes would be headed toward Texas and Florida, residents and cities alike, were all left to scramble to take necessary precautions. Even in these places where people know to prepare for hurricanes, many residents were left struggling to stock up on extra supplies and to secure plans to evacuate for family members and pets.

Here in Illinois, from tornadoes to snowstorms, we too could be hit with a devastating weather event, and that left me to wonder, how would Illinois do?

From each of us as individuals, to our cities and counties, how prepared are we? While we all know, it is important to have flashlights, batteries, extra blankets and food and water on hand, how many of us actually have extra supplies and a plan of action if a significant event were to hit us?

Here in Chicago I wonder how an evacuation would go, from long lines of people trying to get gas for their cars, to crowded roads and highways, packed with people trying to leave the city.  And what about those without a car? Chicagoans rely heavily on public transportation, however in the event of an emergency, would bus and train lines still operate?  How would the city communicate with residents on what to do or where to go? These are important questions to consider in order for us to be fully prepared.

A visit to weather.gov greets viewers with this very important message below. Not only does it advocate for us each to have our own personal plans for safety, it calls for decision makers to review plans to ensure people have safe shelters to seek in the event it would be needed.

In the immortal words of Benjamin Franklin, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. It is important that we do anything we can to help those affected by the recent hurricanes. But also take a little time to be prepared yourself in the event of an emergency here. Go to ready.illinois.gov for information on emergency preparedness. Hopefully, none of us will need it, but if we do, best to be prepared for you and your loved ones.

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Winter Preparedness from www.fema.gov

This is a great reminder to all of us, from leaders in Springfield and City Hall, to our family and friends, that we all need to review and update our preparedness plans.

On a personal level, we can take action to be ready. We can do this by stocking up on necessary supplies, as suggested by the Salvation Army here, to ensuring we know important phone numbers, but also have a plan to get into contact with family and friends in case phone lines and internet connections go down.  Not having extra supplies is not just a matter of being prepared, it is a matter of financial means as well. People living on a budget can often times not stock up on extra supplies, leaving these individuals vulnerable during a disaster.

As we keep those in our thoughts who have been recently impacted by devastating weather, we must use this opportunity to ensure we have a proper plan in the event we too need to evacuate our homes and the places we love. Let us use this time to evaluate how we can safely protect those we care about and be a good neighbor to all.

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