Preparing for disaster

By Chad Weber

March 8, 2013 Updated Oct 26, 2013 at 1:25 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- It may not always look or feel like it outside, but spring weather is coming to Central Illinois.

And along with that weather, comes the severe weather season.

Red Cross volunteers from across the area came together Friday to prepare for the worst.

The scenario: Tornadoes rip across the Midwest, hitting home here in Illinois, and causing significant damage in Champaign and Pittsfield.

Now Red Cross chapters across the area have to make pivotal decisions, impacting the lives of thousands of citizens.

"The first 48 hours to 72 hours are pure chaos," said disaster officer Marlys Devries, "but in reality if you know what your resources are and who you have to connect with, you can make it a lot smoother and a lot more efficient."

Chapters from Peoria, Bloomington, Decatur, Quincy, and Springfield all met in Peoria Friday, to participate in a disaster scenario drill.

The participants had to decide how to allocate resources and volunteers to the disaster stricken areas.

"In times of stress you need to be able to react almost mechanically," said Red Cross volunteer Lou Fuentes, "and that's why we have drills like this."

Likewise, the Red Cross recommends you have a plan for your family during this severe weather season.

"Talk with your family, make sure you have an emergency kit," said director of development for the Red Cross in Bloomingon Patrick Gavin. "Make sure you have a plan for everyone in the family so when it happens it is not a panic, its not what do we do."

Lou Fuentes said it can make all the difference.

"I've seen homes that have been totally devastated and the people, some of the first words out of their mouth are my family is safe and sound," said Fuentes. "We are all accounted for. We did have a disaster plan in place."

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.