This week our thoughts are with our friends and relatives in the southeastern United States in the path of Hurricane Katrina. In the wake of such a monumental storm, I am awed - both by nature's power of destruction and by people's strength of endurance.
I'd like to thank Arizona residents for the incredible outpouring of care, concern and assistance they have already shown to the hurricane survivors. Today, the Phoenix Fire Department's Urban Search and Rescue team arrived in Mississippi to help search for residents trapped by floodwaters and offer medical care. Additionally, the Arizona Chapters of the American Red Cross have sent 35 volunteers, four emergency response vehicles, and a communications satellite vehicle to aid in the emergency management. If you would like to make a contribution to the relief efforts, you can do so by visiting the Arizona Red Cross website, www.arizonaredcross.org
Thankfully, Arizonans will never have to worry about preparing for a hurricane. But our state does have its own set of natural and manmade disasters to prepare for, including wildfires, monsoon winds and rains, and hazardous material spills.
State agencies and your local communities have plans in place to handle emergencies and evacuations, but in order for Arizona to truly be prepared, individuals must have their own plans in place too. That is why I am declaring September Arizona's Emergency Preparedness month.
Think of what you and your family would need if you were homebound for several days possibly without running water, electricity or phone service. What would you do if local officials came to your door, or appeared on TV or radio instructing you to evacuate immediately.
You can start preparing for these scenarios by building an emergency kit. Gather some basic emergency supplies such as non-perishable food items, bottled water, cash, flashlights, a battery powered radio and extra batteries, a first aid kit, and toiletries. Think of any special needs such as necessary medications and medical supplies. And don't forget your pets. They will need food, medicine and a place to stay as well.
Make an evacuation plan for your home and a communications plan so family members have an agreed upon friend or relative they can contact if they are separated when disaster strikes.
Finally, take a few minutes to visit Arizona 2-1-1 Online at www.az211.gov
On the 2-1-1 Online page, you will also find information about several preparedness events the state's emergency response agencies will be offering throughout September in communities around Arizona. I encourage you to participate. If Arizonans prepare for emergencies now, our state will survive and thrive when the unexpected hits.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please contact my office at 1-800-253-0883 and ask to speak to Constituent Services.
Yours Very Truly,