By Congressman Adrian Smith
Dealing with severe weather is an unfortunate part of life in Nebraska. As we saw with last year’s record flooding, nature can be unpredictable and unrelenting. Ensuring you, your family, your home, and your business are prepared for a weather emergency is critical to minimizing the devastating impact extreme events can have on life and property.
Already this year, there have been nearly two-dozen confirmed tornadoes in Nebraska, including the first-ever recorded tornado in the month of February. In addition, there already have been several instances of flash flooding, including particularly devastating events in the Panhandle and Norfolk last month.
Severe weather can strike anywhere and anytime, so it is important to identify potential dangers and be familiar with storm-related terms. For example, flood watch means conditions are favorable for flooding and flood warning means flooding conditions certainly will occur.
Fortunately, today there are many ways to keep you informed about approaching severe weather such as television and radio alerts, weather radios, and early warning systems. Additionally, weather experts recommend maintaining an emergency kit in case extreme conditions develop. Some essentials you should make sure you have include a flashlight with extra batteries, battery-operated radio, non-perishable food items, and a first aid kit. Also, be sure to keep copies of important documents, such as property deeds and personal medical records, in a secure, waterproof location.
In the event of a major natural disaster, my offices in Grand Island and Scottsbluff stand ready to assist individuals, families, and businesses who need help navigating government agencies or other relief resources. In addition, I am pleased to offer assistance to Nebraska’s county and local officials. Just as an example, last year during the major flooding events along the Missouri and North Platte river systems, my staff and I were able to help direct disaster aid and resources to flood victims and affected communities.
Delivering aid to areas hit by a weather-related disasters is a fundamental function of government. Having assisted local communities in coordination with local, state and federal agencies, I understand the importance of this relief. Congress should continue to support these vital programs in a fiscally responsible way with proper oversight. Please, do not hesitate to contact me, even if you are unsure of what aid exists or the extent of damage you have suffered.
From first responders to community volunteers, the true Nebraska way is displayed during such times. I personally have witnessed Nebraskans make extraordinary efforts to help their fellow citizens during times of need. These actions remind us of the helpful, determined spirit of Nebraskans, which make our state and its people unique.
Certainly, we cannot control where or when severe weather might hit, but we can take steps in advance to prepare. While meteorology and early warning systems have advanced by leaps and bounds, there is no substitute for having a plan of action of your own in case of a weather-related emergency. For additional information or to gather more ideas on how to be prepared, I encourage you to visit www.Ready.gov. I urge all Third District residents to be prepared as we move further into the severe weather season – it can help protect your property and even save your life.
For more information about this issue, the latest developments in Congress, or to sign up for Congressman Smith’s e-mail newsletter, please visit http://adriansmith.house.gov.