Are you and your family prepared for the next “big one”?

By: Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

The catastrophic landfall of Hurricane Michael is the latest event that should serve as a wake-up call to everyone about individual

Devastation to Mexico Beach, Florida from Hurricane Michael.

emergency preparedness. The news and social media have all been abuzz since Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle and literally wiped the town of Mexico Beach, Florida off the map, along with many other communities in the panhandle and on up into Georgia and South Carolina as it made its way to the Atlantic.

By now we’ve all heard the facts and figures for casualties and property loss estimates. And we’ve heard the heartbreaking stories and seen the pictures of war-like devastation. All only weeks after Hurricane Florence and that storm’s devastating impact on North Carolina in particular.

So, what have you and your family done to prepare for the crisis to could strike your community today, tomorrow, or next week?

You don’t live in a hurricane zone? Maybe you do live in places like

  • The Pacific Coast where every year brings wildfires and mud slides and the occasional earthquake.
  • The American Midwest with tornadoes and severe thunderstorms and severe winter weather.
  • The High Plains with severe winter weather storms and howling winds.
  • The Northeast with severe winter weather, severe thunderstorms, and transportation accident.
  • The Southeast with hurricanes, spring tornadoes and severe thunderstorms

Live near a rail line? How about an interstate highway? Or maybe an industrial plant or manufacturing facility?

Are you and your family prepared to leave your home on a moment’s notice and be self-sufficient for 72 hours (You know, 3 days) even in an emergency shelter? If your local or state authorities ordered you to evacuate, where would you go?

I know, I know. I have a lot of questions and not many answers. Why? because you need the questions and here’s where you find the answers

And why am I writing this blog? Because I get quite perturbed when I see and hear the stories like those in the aftermath of Florence and Michael of people who did not heed evacuation orders from emergency management professionals and who subsequently required rescue by fire EMS and law enforcement. In the coastal town of New Bern, North Carolina, almost 500 residents who did not evacuate ahead of Florence needed to be rescued, many from the roofs of their homes.

I’m also writing today because in communities where Hurricane Michael passed over (Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Virginia) only a day or two later people were on social media bemoaning their lack of water and electricity because those services had yet to be restored. Whatever happened to rugged American individualism? You know, the guts and fortitude that sustained our ancestors as they made a life in a new country, from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast?

In the words of noted public safety risk reduction expert, Gordon Graham, “Predictable is preventable.” What are you and your family doing to prepare yourselves to “rough it” when a disaster strikes your community? Don’t just think about it. Do something about it!

About Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

Battalion Chief (Ret.) Robert Avsec served with the men and women of the Chesterfield County (VA) Fire and EMS Department for 26 years. He’s now using his acquired knowledge, skills, and experiences as a freelance writer for and as the “blogger in chief” for this blog. Chief Avsec and his wife of 30+ years now make their home in Cross Lanes, WV. Contact him via e-mail,