Albemarle Fire Rescue wants you to prepare for emergencies

September is National Preparedness Month, and Albemarle’s Deputy Fire Chief for Emergency Management wants you to create a plan for times when normality is disrupted.

“Emergency management is something that we have focused on for a number of years but lately we have really been kind of expanding our broadening that focus,” said Deputy Chief John Oprandy said. “What emergency management focuses on for the whole county government and the community is a preparedness for all types of hazards.”

Increasingly these hazards are weather-related with both increased frequency and increased severity. This past January were a string of winter weather storms that shut down power in many communities for several days. Oprandy wants people to get ready for the next season. 

“People tend to forget and they tend to not be ready,” Oprandy said. “And when they are ready, they’re not as resilient as they’d like to be. Resilience, bouncing back, being able to recover quickly from those emergencies is what we’re after.” 

A key example of a sudden unplanned emergency is the derecho that hit on June 29, 2012 which killed at least two Albemarle residents and disrupted many lives. Oprandy said preparing for power outages is key. 

“The ice storm that we had back in January where suddenly we were without power and the damage to the grid locally was such that it was going to be days,” Oprandy said. “That was not predicted and so if you weren’t ready ahead of time, you’re not ready.”

An emergency checklist from the Federal Emergency Management Agency 

Oprandy recommends people to go to ready.gov which is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There are instructions on how to build a kit which should include enough food and water for three days, a battery-powered radio, a first-aid kit, and more. 

“The food, there are kits that are available which are meals ready to eat,” Oprandy said. “You just add hot water.” 

But what about the hot water? Get a camp stove, Oprandy says. 

As part of his new position, Oprandy said one task is to help connect people in the rural area with resources. These areas are likely to be without power longer in the event of outages. 

“You know, we’re all in this together,” Oprandy said. “There’s nothing the county is going to be able to do to resolve this for everyone. We are all going to have to help each other in these times and so we’re working to build those networks and contacts ahead of times so that we can all be more resilient during a disaster.”

What about you? What are your plans? Anything you’d like to share? Do so in the comments. 


Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the September 15, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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