Disaster ready? 'I have Band-Aids? I'm really not prepared'

EUGENE, Ore. - September is the start of school, football and cooler weather.

But before that crisp fall air turns into dangerous storm weather, officials are urging people to be prepared.

Jason York, Emergency Manager for the City of Eugene, says he hopes people will take the time to get their household ready for any catastrophe.

For many, that's as simple as making an emergency kit.

York recommends filling your kit with enough food and water for three days. He said a few creature comforts can help a family through a time of crisis.

"Have things that you enjoy, not just toys for the kids but have a book to read, have something to entertain yourself because if you go into a shelter situation it can be boring, it can be tedious, so just those comfort items."

York said planning for a disaster doesn't mean you have to think big: preparing for a massive earthquake or giant tsunami is a little too large, in his opinion.

Instead, he recommends starting small with more likely calamities.

"Look at those things that are worst case, most likely. We have power outages every year, you have storms every year, fire concern around here is huge. So when I ask people to plan, if you look at those small things and build on that, you can go up to those bigger catastrophic type events."

Ryan Durka is a New Jersey resident who was impacted by both superstorm Sandy and the World Trade Center attacks.

"Sandy was terrible," says Durka, "and I was there on 9/11, I watched it happen."

Both instances have reinforced to Durka the importance of being prepared.

"They were a good eye opener to be aware and not get caught off guard. Not have no food in your house, not have no cash in your wallet, not having any gas in your car. Don't put yourself out like that."

Not everyone agrees on the importance of an emergency kit or plan.

Sue Desmond, a Eugene resident, said she's not concerned about disasters, and adds that if and when they happen, she'll just deal with any problems then.

"I have batteries in the flashlights," Desmond said. "I have Band-Aids? I'm really not prepared."

Peggy Sue Cavaney says her family has a box of necessities, just in case disaster strikes.

"My husband and I have photocopies of our drivers licenses, we have food, plenty of water."

Peggy Sue's biggest question: why wouldn't you prepare?

"It's not really that hard to do so why not do it? If it could make a difference if something did happen, I'll be glad it's there."

York said that preparation is more than just a kit. This year, there's a big push for people to think about a community-based response, he said.

"In a disaster, city resources could be overwhelmed and you may not be able to rely on that," York said. "That's why you want to know your neighbors, how they can help and how you can help them."

If you'd like to learn more about ways to prepare yourself, your family, and your community for a disaster, you can contact the City of Eugene at (541) 682-5665 for information on Community Emergency Response Team training.