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Resilient and ready: facing a natural disaster

  • Published
  • By Michelle Johnson, contributor
  • Air National Guard Safety Resilience Initiatives
In September 2013, a 100-year flood devastated parts of Colorado by tearing up roads, uprooting trees, and leaving many civilians homeless. For Master Sgt. Jorge Charry, an Equal Opportunity and Diversity specialist at the Colorado Air National Guard's 140th Wing, this natural disaster was much too close to home for comfort. His daughter, Airman 1st Class, Alina Charry, also from the 140th Wing, was deployed to the middle of the affected area to aid victims during the natural disaster.

Although natural disasters can never be anticipated, Jorge Charry, who helps prepare the Colorado community for disastrous events by implementing first aid programs and survival methods, considers it part of his homeland mission to be prepared for the unexpected. Practicing Guard skills in his everyday life keeps him on his toes, and in turn, keeps his family and community safe.

"It goes along with the whole concept of resilience and readiness," he says. "To be resilient, you have to be prepared. Not just for a catastrophe, but even for day in and day out. You stay healthy and you're ready to overcome situations mentally and spiritually on a daily basis. That's my middle name, Resiliency."

To maintain these Airman qualities in everyday life, Jorge Charry keeps an at-home first aid kit, makes sure his family has enough supplies and canned goods, does regular maintenance on smoke detectors and alarms, and has a designated spot for his family to meet in the event of an evacuation.

"We have a checklist for things that need to be maintained and especially for things that have an expiration date," he says. "We're not paranoid or anything, but that's part of our lifestyle. It's a good way to plan and a good tool to have."

Terry Hardy, a safety and risk management professional and author of Emergency Planning and Response: Case Studies and Lessons Learned, emphasizes the importance of practicing preparedness in everyday life.

"We have to start thinking differently about emergency preparedness," Hardy said in his blog. "For emergency planning and response to be successful, it must not be a special event, but rather it must be considered a normal and natural part of how we do things and how we think. In other words, individuals and organizations must cultivate a culture of preparedness."

In light of September's National Preparedness Month, make it part of your homeland mission to implement preparedness and resilience into your daily life. Complete this checklist to keep you and your family safe in the event of a natural disaster.

Emergency Planning Tactics for Disaster Readiness:

  1. Stay Informed
    Get information during disasters from T.V., radio, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather station, and local emergency warning systems.

    Know which natural disaster is most likely to strike your community. There are six specific kinds:
    • Earthquake
    • Flood
    • Hurricane
    • Tornado
    • Wildfire
    • Winter Storm

    Find out how to prepare for each of these natural disasters at

  2. Have an Evacuation Plan
    • Identify an out-of-town contact, such as a friend or relative, who family members can call to let them know they are safe.
    • Plan how your family would respond if you happened to be deployed in the event of an emergency.
    • If separated during an emergency, choose two places to meet:
      • Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire
      • Outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate
  3. Create an Emergency Supply Kit
    A disaster supply kit provides you with the essential items you will need in case of an emergency. Make sure you put your kit together well in advance and make sure it is updated regularly.

    Here, you can follow guidelines for building a kit:
  4. Get Involved: From

    Get involved in your community in order to help keep you and your community safer. Here are a few ways you can help:
    • Volunteer to support disaster efforts in your community. Get trained and volunteer with a Community Emergency Response Team, Medical Reserve Corps unit and/or other Citizen Corps Partner Program or Affiliate organization.  Many local faith-based and community organizations have programs active in supporting disasters too.
    • Be part of the community planning process. Connect and collaborate with your local emergency planning group, Citizen Corps Council or local emergency management agency.