By CHRIS AGEE
Following a week defined by the news of two horrific disasters, many Americans are focused on being prepared in the face of unforeseen calamity.
Locally, officials explain there are many steps residents can take to make sure they survive emergency situations.
Palo Pinto County Emergency Management Coordinator Buddy Harwell said the Palo Pinto County Sheriff's Department is usually the first source of information following a disastrous event.
"Then I'm going to be notified – myself and [County Judge David Nicklas] – to declare a disaster in the county," he said. When the declaration reaches the governor's office, state resources help establish a disaster relief team.
The team quickly gets to work, Harwell added, "setting up donation centers, water, blankets, things like that. The American Red Cross would be involved, possibly the Forest Service, things like that."
Additionally, state response includes establishing a hotline for individuals affected to receive information and instructions.
"It depends on the circumstances how it would unfold," Harwell said.
Though the county has no established shelter for displaced residents, Harwell said churches and school districts reliably provide such services.
In order to prepare for any emergency, he recommends establishing a household plan and setting aside essential supplies necessary in the wake of a disaster. He recommended packing a bag for each household member, including pets, containing three days worth of medicine, food, and clothing, along with important papers and other vital items.
Online resources, including wildlandfiresrsg.org, provide its Ready, Set, Go! initiative, which Harwell said can be an important tool in preparing for an emergency.
The American Red Cross offers smartphone applications for most emergency situations along with alerts signaling a nearby situation, he added.
Mineral Wells citizens can also take part in CodeRED, a high-speed telephone emergency notification service.
All businesses and individuals can make sure their phone numbers are included in the CodeRED database by calling the Mineral Wells City Clerk's office at (940) 328-7700 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Whether it be fire, tornado or another type of disaster, a little thought and preparation can help lessen its traumatic effects.