MOUNT GILEAD — “Be ready for the first 72 hours after a disaster,” was the recommendation of Emergency Management Director for Morrow County John Harsch, who was the Chamber of Commerce speaker at their September 17 meeting.
Harsch emphasized the importance of planning and preparedness for residents and businesses for the first 72 hours following a disaster occurrence.
Before state and federal help arrives, it’s important to have supplies, medications and food on had to get through the first three days. Flashlights, batteries, maps and a radio are also helpful to include in emergency supplies.
“The first 72 is on you,” said Harsch who wants residents to realize it is everyone’s responsibility to be prepared and have a plan in the event of a disaster.
Harsch said that the county’s “Code Red” alert system will change to “Hyper-reach” at the beginning of 2020. It will be one third the cost of Code Red and county residents will receive notice of major alerts, whether or not they are registered.
Emergency alerts with Hyper-reach include: floods, fires, severe weather, public health alerts, criminal activity and more. County residents can register for all alerts online at http://hyper-reach.com/ohmorrowsignup.html, or by calling 419-462-9320, texting “Alert” to 419-462-9320 or faxing a form available from the EMA office.
Harsch recently worked on the county-wide five-year mitigation plan. Its purpose is to lessen the impact of a disaster. One of the main things they cover is prevention. Examples he gave were trimming trees over the electric lines that can help prevent a black-out and cleaning out ditches helps prevent flooding.
Major flooding isn’t likely to be a problem in Morrow County since drainage is good. Harsch said the county does sit on a fault line, so there is some possibility of an earthquake.
“Dark sky” in with the loss of power in storms, said Harsch, is most feared by emergency responders. One of the biggest risks for the county is the 20 miles on Interstate 71 through the county.
If anything keeps Harsch up at night, he said it is worries about the hazardous waste that is transported on I 71 through the county. It’s his responsibility to keep county Hasmat plans up-to-date in the case of an accident with hazardous materials.
The county soon will have another disaster planning meeting with Amish residents in the county The hospital, health department and other agencies will cooperate to bring them information. More than 200 Amish attended the last disaster meeting.
Harsch urged all businesses and agencies to have a plan for disasters. The FEMA booklet “Every business should have a plan” was distributed and is available at the county EMA office.
He said businesses need to know how to proceed and keep their business or agency open and available in case of disaster. Employees should know where to go and know how they and their families will be kept safe. Employers should think about what is absolutely necessary to keep their business going.
The website ema.ohio.gov has several tools for planning in case of emergency and disaster. The website details how to build an emergency preparedness kit on a budget. Harsch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 419-947-4041.