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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

These are not normal days

"These are not normal days, this is not a spring that comes around often, we haven't seen conditions like these since 1917," Mary-Kay Hicks, Texas Forest Service, said.

ODESSA, Texas — At least two homes have burned and a West Texas community near Odessa has been evacuated after new wildfires erupted in parts of the windswept, tinder-dry region.
Two fires prompted the evacuation of the 800-resident community of Pleasant Farms, about 12 miles south of Odessa. Reporters on the scene say two homes in the subdivision already have burned. No injuries have been reported.

Having a Plan:
One of the problems fire officials had in North Texas is that people in the fire's path refused to their homes.
Authorities say Central Texans need to be on alert for the threat of wildfire and need to have a plan just in case.
"We're in a good position because we have time to plan out, and figure out where you want to meet, where will you go, what will you take with you," Hicks said.

Local Public Safety officials may deem evacuation is necessary due to wildfires in your area. If asked to evacuate, please do so in a speedy and responsible manner.  Authorities do not ask you to leave if it is NOT in your best interest. They know how difficult a decision this is and how emotional it can be. PLEASE cooperate and NOW is the TIME TO PREPARE. The more you are READY, when the call comes to GO you are SET and you can get out of harms way.

I offer you these tips for those who evacuate.

Planning for Evacuation
·                       Ask your local Emergency Management Office about community evacuation plans.
·                       Learn proposed evacuation routes and locations of public shelters.
·                       If you do not have personal transportation, make arrangements with friends or your local government.
·                       Make a plan with family members for a destination if you have to leave your community.  In your planning, consider different scales of evacuation – neighborhood, town, county, etc.
·                       Assemble a Disaster Supply Kit.
·                       Keep your car fueled if evacuation seems likely.  Gas stations may be closed during an emergency, or unable to pump gas during power outages.
·                       Know how to shut off your home’s electricity, gas and water supplies at main switches and valves.

What to do if asked/told to evacuate
·                       Gather all persons in the house together.
·                       Household members outside the area may be advised not to return during an evacuation.  They may be directed to a reception center or mass care shelter where you can join them.
·                       Do not call your local fire or police departments for information.  Emergency workers will need their lines for emergency use. 
·                       Stay tuned to your Emergency Alert System radio station or local AM radio station. I say AM because they usually have a more continuous news reporting of an emergency.
·                       Turn off lights and unnecessary appliances.
·                       Close and lock windows and doors.
·                       Check with neighbors to see if they need assistance.  Offer to share transportation.
·                       Let others know where you are going.
·                       If you need a ride, try to get one with neighbors or contact your local Emergency Management Office.
·                       If you have livestock, shelter them.  Leave them at least a three-day supply of stored feed and water that has been protected from possible contamination.

How to travel
·                       Keep the car radio tuned to an Emergency Alert System station.
·                       Be aware of designated evacuation routes.
·                       Avoid routes that are anywhere near the fire, you DON’T need to get a closer look.

What to take with you
Essential items.  You may be away from home for a few hours to a few days.
·                       Clothing for several days.
·                       Toilet articles (Soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.)
·                       Prescription medicines, medical equipment and important medical records.
·                       Special dietary foods.
·                       Baby supplies.
·                       Blankets, pillows, and towels (if you plan on staying at a Public Mass Care Shelter).
·                       Identification and important papers.
·                       Checkbook, credit card and cash.
·                       Your cell phone AND charger. Now might be a good time to get that compact charging battery, many are no bigger than a pack of cigarettes and cost less than $20 and can charge your cell a couple of times..

About your pets
·                       Only seeing-eye dogs and other service animals will be allowed inside most reception centers and mass care shelters.
·                       In many communities, shelters have plans to accommodate pets, check out the restrictions BEFORE you need to know..
·                       Make plans ahead of time to take your pet to stay at relatives, friends or a kennel outside the affected area.
·                       Know pet-friendly hotels and motels.
·                       Prepare an emergency kit for your pets; include collars & leashes, a three-day supply of food, bowls, litter boxes, photographs, and a week’s supply of medications that your pet may be taking.
·                       Make sure your pets wear collars with current license and rabies tags, and identification tags that include information on where you will be staying during the emergency.
·                       Use a pet carrier for each of your pets to make transportation easier.


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