Officials: Be prepared for next storm
The worst is over but it will happen again. Count on it and prepare for it.
Violent storms that swept through central Ohio June 29 left hundreds of thousands without power -- some for more than a week -- and with little relief from sweltering temperatures.
Some local agencies are reminding people that preparedness is key in ensuring safety and relative comfort when the next big storm hits.
Columbus Public Health recommends people make a step-by-step plan for emergencies and put together a kit for their homes, car and work.
Mike McNutt, a spokesman in the Office of Emergency Preparedness for the health agency, said every household should have a gallon of water per person, per day for a three-day period. Pet supplies should be on-hand for that same timeframe.
Houses should be equipped with first-aid kits, pain-relievers and hand-sanitizer, and stocked with plenty of non-perishable foods.
A battery-operated transistor radio will help keep folks caught up with emergency information and fresh batteries will keep flashlights working, he said.
McNutt said smaller details shouldn't be overlooked. For example, every utensil drawer should have a manual can opener.
"We always advocate for people having kits like this ready for themselves in any circumstance," he said. "We obviously never have any idea when something's going to happen."
Antonia Carroll, director of Franklin County Office on Aging, urges people to check on their elderly neighbors and direct them to shelters that offer refuge during the heat or cold.
"It has been our experience that elderly people are reluctant to leave their houses," she said. "Your job is to check up on them and provide anything you can."
Carroll said cordless telephones don't work when the electricity is out, so if seniors don't have cell phones, old rotary and push-button phones work when power is disrupted.
Some local food pantries say they withstood the brunt of the storm but are in need of provisions.
Livingston United Methodist Church, which has its own food pantry and supplies meals to the Faith Mission, is in need of ground beef, hot dogs, chicken and other bulk meat products, the Rev. Jim Donnan said.
Power went out Friday after the storm, he said. By happenstance, food program coordinator Ginny Clear came down to church that evening and helped save the frozen food. Also salvaged was thousands of dollars worth of insulin, which must be refrigerated, for the Charitable Pharmacy.
"We haven't had this kind of calamity. It hasn't happened since I've been here," said Donnan, who's been pastor of the church for 18 years.
Bill Owens, executive director of the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center, said the organization's food needs run the full gamut: canned soup, canned tuna, peanut butter, ramen noodles and other things that don't require immediate refrigeration.
The CRC only lost power for about a day. Just by coincidence, the truck delivering frozen foods Friday didn't make it to the center on time, so little was thrown away.
"We lucked out," Owens said. "We lost a couple dozen eggs for our Sunday breakfast and that was it."