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Emergency organizations want central NY to be more prepared for disaster

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Onondaga County emergency professionals want to prepare central New York for a potential disaster.  First they want to know whether everyday citizens are ready for anything from the storm of the century to an act of terrorism.

If there's one thing Superstorm Sandy and other recent disasters taught emergency personnel, it was how unprepared citizens are in the face of a disaster that disrupts their lives for an extended period of time.  Rosie Travella, CEO of the Central New York American Red Cross, says that's one reason the organization is embarking on a pilot program to start a community resilience strategy.  She says he first step is to find out if central New Yorkers are ready.

"The Red Cross tells people to build a kit, stay informed.  But for some reason it just hasn't caught on as something people feel they have to do for themselves.  And now with disasters on the rise, it's time," said Travella.

An online survey will ask citizens if they are ready for a disaster, then emergency organizations will craft a plan to make sure people know how to be prepared.  And it's a good idea says Onodnaga County Emergency Management Commissioner Kevin Wisely, who says central New Yorkers have become a little complacent about potential disasters.

"We've been very fortunate in the last 20 months, that the major storms that have occurred around New York state, and around us, have for the most part left us unscathed," said Wisely. "That may not always be the case for us, so we want people to start thinking about those things, and what they would do with some of those things we've come to depend on.

National Grid is sponsoring the pilot program.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.