Topeka (KSNT) –
“You should never underestimate the power of a tornado,” says Red Cross Emergency Manager, Roberto Baltodano.
When it comes the Red Cross, it’s their mission to be prepared. They’ve had volunteers on standby all week so that if disaster strikes, they can assess the situation and step in.
“Within an hour and a half to two hours, we are actually at a location, with a shelter servicing people,” says Baltodano.
They come with first aid, food, clothes, and often, a means of shelter.
While organizations like the Red Cross will help in times of need, ultimately it comes down to families to be prepared before disaster even hits.
“It all starts at home. Preparedness begins with your family,” says Baltodano.
He knows that first-hand.
“In ’92 we had a hurricane. Hurricane Andrew. My family was not familiar with those things and I was not prepared. So I actually sought the services of the red cross, so I was on the other end. I was on the receiving end,” says Baltodano.
Now he and emergency managers encourage others to plan ahead.
Their first tip is to not rely on the sirens. They’re easy to miss and sometimes too late.
“If you rely solely on the sirens, you’ll be sadly disappointed unless you’re really close,” says Director of Shawnee County Emergency Management, Dave Sterbenz.
The second tip is to have a safety kit, with food, water, and a flashlight, as well as anything you may need.
Also, Sterbenz suggests you trust your meteorologist.
“Absolutely pay attention to your weatherman! Again we don’t hit them all on the head, we’re not perfect all the time, we miss a lot, but at least be responsible for yourself and pay attention,” says Sterbenz.
Disaster responders will be there in time of need, but if you’re prepared. you may be fortunate enough not to need them.