GREEN COVE SPRINGS – “The worst time to prepare is when a disaster strikes,” said Clay County resident Moises Osorio. As a husband and father of two, Moises shared that “you want to be ready …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – “The worst time to prepare is when a disaster strikes,” said Clay County resident Moises Osorio. As a husband and father of two, Moises shared that “you want to be ready beforehand to help you make the right decisions, smart decisions.”
With extreme weather events escalating in frequency and severity in recent years, experts urge families to plan ahead for natural disasters. Ready.gov, a FEMA website, recommends putting together a “collection of basic items” to last for several days, including food, water, a change of clothes, cash and a flashlight.
The Osorio family paid special attention to the importance of being ready for emergencies during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as essential supplies ran low and uncertainty reigned in the community. They created a budget and saved what was necessary to prepare emergency “go-bags.”
“We included many essential items, but also found ways to save space in our bags by using multipurpose tools,” explained wife Rachel Osorio. “For example, my husband uses a cane to walk due to a back injury, so the cane also serves as a hammer, glass breaking tool, spear for fishing, flashlight and more.”
“Being ready to face a natural disaster may be the difference between life and death when it unexpectedly hits,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesperson for the Christian organization. “We can’t just say life is precious; we need to live it. That’s why the Bible’s advice to take practical steps to protect ourselves and our families from danger makes so much sense — even if threats seem far off.”
Due to their close proximity to St. John’s River, the Osorios expressed the importance of taking the time to review and rehearse different evacuation routes and plans with their children, Joseph, 8, and Joshua, 13. They constantly explain the value of being prepared to help “lessen the stress during an emergency as it becomes muscle memory that can help them react in these situations,” Moises said.
The Osorio’s credit regular disaster-preparedness reminders through their congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and on the Christian organization’s official website, jw.org, for helping them to keep at the ready.
In flood-prone Louisiana, Brandon and C’onia Fitch made preparing go bags a fun activity for kids Nolan, Gavin and Stella, letting them pick out their own bags and add their favorite toys and nonperishable snacks.
“Everyone in the family had a role in preparing the bags,” said Brandon. “They know what’s in them, and they know where to find them.”
The importance of being ‘go bag ready’ was put to the test last year when floodwaters surrounded their home in rural Appalachia.
In pitch darkness and with freezing water rising steadily in their home, the Fitches loaded their go bags — and Princess Pickles, 6-year-old Stella’s beloved guinea pig — into the family car and drove to higher ground.
By morning, four feet of muddy floodwater had devastated the Fitches’ home and brought into sharp focus the true value of their efforts to prepare.
“It took a bit of the panic away,” said C’onia. “It seemed like a daunting task … but I’m so glad we did it.”
“You’re not going to regret it,” agreed Nolan, 16. “It could save your life.”
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