Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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September 29, 2012

Union Mission offers advice on preparing for emergencies

BLUEFIELD — Today is the three-month anniversary of a major windstorm that left hundreds of thousands of people in both West Virginia and Virginia without power, so the region’s residents are being encouraged to stock 25 items that could make coping with the next disaster a little easier.

Local human service agencies such as the Bluefield Union Mission saw many people needing assistance after the straight-line windstorm dubbed a “derecho” hit the region, simply because the storm took them by surprise, said Craig Hammond, the mission’s executive director. Work is now underway to get more residents ready for an emergency. September is National Preparedness Month.

“We’re really trying to get the word out,” Hammond said.

After the storm, much of the mission’s work involved going door-to-door and helping people who could not get to the union mission on their own, he recalled. Many of them did not have any supplies such as water or groceries. Being better prepared would help relieve the stress on local human service agencies.

“If everybody could get better prepared and take an hour to put together a plan, it would really help agencies that respond to these disasters,” Hammond said.

To help people with emergency preparations, the Greater Bluefield Ministerial Association and the Bluefield Union Mission have compiled a list of 25 items that could help a household cope with a disaster such as the windstorm or a major snowstorm. The list has been dubbed “The Top 25 Things You Should Have.”

Water, food, and clean air are important things to have if an emergency happens. Each family or individual’s kit should be customized to meet specific needs, such as medications and infant formula. It should also be customized to include important family documents. Every family’s emergency planning should address the care of pets, aiding family members with special needs, cold weather, power outages, and safely shutting off utilities.

“There are ways people can survive a week at a time without having to seek outside assistance from area agencies,” Hammond said. “There are a lot of things people can do to get prepared — simple things they can do.”

— Contact Greg Jordan at


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