January 01, 2014 - After a recent major power outage that left thousands in the dark without heat nor lights, many residents may think more about being prepared for emergencies.
Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle said the township will meet with local organizations in January regarding emergency preparedness.
Kittle said during emergency planning sessions the township will put together airtight emergency plans to address many scenarios to make sure officials are completely ready to address whatever situation arises.
Kittle said after the ice storm, the township stayed in contact with the fire, police and other officials.
"I have been in daily contact with the police and fire department, parks and recreations and the senior center coordinator," he said.
Kittle said during the emergency he spoke with Clarkston Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock who said the schools could immediately open for shelter and even provide food and water.
"Rock said schools were ready to go immediately," Kittle said.
Kittle said during the emergency he received five calls asking for assistance, and the township sent help.
"The township will always offer assistance during emergency situations," he added.
"We also opened up fire stations two and three so residents could get water, charge cell phones, have some hot coffee or take a shower."
Regardless of how many residents may need help in an emergency, Kittle said he wants to ensure residents are safe in future emergencies. In January an emergency planning session will include emergency personnel, township officials, local churches or community organizations.
Kittle said during the storm the United Methodist Church in Clarkston called the township and offered to open the church for residents and also be included as a shelter in future emergencies.
Independence Township is included in a special response unit called Michigan Fire Service Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS), which includes plans to summon self-sustainable firefighters from many counties and a warehouse full of supplies.
Regional Communication Officer for the American Red Cross Allison Koenigbauer said families should always be prepared with at least 72 hours of supplies to self-sustain.
Koenigbauer said the ARC always stand ready to help during an emergency, and responds to a situation based on the needs of a community.
"We also work communities to find out what their needs are," she said adding that most communities have shelters warming centers in place.
Koenigbauer said the ARC can send supplies if a community or a county requests assistance.
"If a city or county asks for assistance opening warming shelters or warming center, we will help with that," she said. "We can also provide food if necessary."
"ARC can help set up shelters, we can also provide cots, food, staff and water," she said.
Koenigbauer said during the ice storm Independence Township did not request assistance, but there were centers set up in some communities. ARC can also send preparedness materials to communities to help families get prepared, but residents should always be prepared for an emergency.
"We do offer safety tips at www.redcross.org as well as various tip sheets," he said. "People should always be prepared before during and after a storm."
Koenigbauer said the best thing families can do is build a disaster kit to sustain them for 72 hours. Kits should include things like food, blankets, water, flashlights, candles and extra medications.
"If an emergency strikes you should be prepared because never know when something will happen," said Koenigbauer.
Call ARC at 1-800-774-6066.
Staff writer covering Independence Township and Clarkston area.