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Regional News

Onondaga county officials introduce "3 Day OK" emergency preparedness program

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Gino Geruntino
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WRVO/File photo
Last year's flooding caused major problems for homeowners in the Mohawk Valley.

Onondaga County and emergency management officials are taking the next step to help central New Yorkers prepare for a natural or man-made disaster. Officials believe it’s not a matter of if a disaster will strike, but when, and residents need to be ready.

Following a survey last year of central New Yorkers asking how ready they were for a disaster, one statistic stood out to Rosie Taravella of the Red Cross. Most people believe emergency responders will be able to help them right away if there is a community-wide storm, flood or man-made disaster.

“Widespread disaster can be a big problem," Taravella said. "It’s not as likely that someone’s going to be there to clear that tree out of your driveway in the hour or two you’d like them to.”  

That's why the county and Red Cross are launching a resilience initiative called “3 Day OK.”  Emergency Management Commissioner Kevin Wisely says it will encourage central New Yorkers to be able to take care of themselves for three days.  

“On a community wide disaster, public safety resources get stretched very thin," Wisely said. "We want citizens to be able to take care of themselves, and not tax those agencies just because they need to get out of their driveway because they need a bottle of water.”  

Wisely also says that would allow first responders to help the people who really need it.
 
“We want them to focus on the folks who are truly in need because something impacted them," Wisely said. "The tree is in their house, or they’re trapped in their car because a tree fell down. Or there are power lines down and they can’t get out of their house, or a fire occurs. Or a flooding situation occurs and we have to deal with those immediate folks. That’s what we want our public agencies to initially respond to.”

Wisely says a container of four items, including water, food, flashlights and a wireless radio are all it takes for a family to survive for a few days in case of a disaster.  

Taravella says she has one in place for her family.

“I have one daughter and one husband, plus me; that’s nine gallons of water set aside," Taravella said. "I have non-perishable canned food items, such as canned food. I have prescription medication. I have first aid kits. I have lighting sources, flashlights and plenty of batteries.”

The particulars of how residents should be able to say they are "3 Day OK" will be outlined in a public awareness campaign that’ll start in January.