Editorial, Sept. 7, 2017

Sep 07, 2017

Be prepared

As we've seen across the country in recent weeks, disasters — hurricanes, wildfires, flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes, drought — can strike anywhere, any time. And it just so happens September is National Preparedness Month.

Maine Emergency Management Agency officials and the Federal Emergency Management Agency urge us to plan ahead and be prepared for a variety of emergency situations.

According to a press release from MEMA, Preparedness Month in Maine will feature a different theme each week to help people prepare for emergencies. Themes range from making an emergency plan to knowing evacuation routes and learning about electrical safety and first aid to preparing financially for a disaster through savings and checking insurance policies. For a full list of suggested weekly preparedness actions during September, go online to maine.gov/mema.

There also is online training available through FEMA to teach life-saving actions “Until Help Arrives” at https://community.fema.gov/until-help-arrives.

Even when a disaster doesn't strike close to home, many people seek out ways to help. And, as often happens in our state, Maine volunteers have stepped up to the cause, raising emergency funds and, in some cases, traveling to Texas to lend their aid.

Last week, the American Red Cross dispatched 14 people and emergency vehicles to the Lone Star State, and we have received reports of other emergency groups, including some individuals from the Midcoast, headed there as well. The National Disaster Medical System, for example, has sent a team of volunteers from Woolwich, Searsport, Topsham, Portland and Scarborough.

But Maine Attorney General Janet Mills advises Mainers to choose wisely before sending funds to help the families and communities suffering from the extreme weather in Texas.

“A natural disaster brings out the best us, and people around the world offer whatever we can to aid victims like those down in Texas this week,” Mills said. “Unfortunately, it also sometimes brings out people who take advantage of our good nature and provide no help to those in need.”

Questions or complaints about particular organizations may be directed to the Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-436-2131.

Other sources for guidance related to charitable giving are websites for the Maine Attorney General, the Texas Attorney General, and the Federal Trade Commission.

Do not give money to organizations that are unfamiliar or not recommended official sources. Organizations that are considered reliable include American Red Cross, which is encouraging people to donate money on its website, redcross.org, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10. Apple is also accepting Red Cross donations via iTunes and the Apple App Store.

The Red Cross is also seeking blood. Go to redcrossblood.org to find upcoming blood drives in your area; we also list blood drives in the events calendar in Section B.

Other reputable organizations accepting donations for hurricane victims are:

  • Americares, an emergency response organization based in Connecticut, is delivering emergency medicine and relief supplies and working with a local clinic in Houston. Make a donation at americares.org.
  • United Way Worldwide has a relief fund to provide shelter and basic needs, as well as long-term recovery efforts. Donate at https://www.unitedway.org.
  • The Salvation Army is accepting donations for hurricane relief at give.salvationarmyusa.org.
  • To help pets stranded by Hurricane Harvey, donations are being accepted by the Humane Society of the United States at humanesociety.org.
  • For volunteer opportunities or other places to donate, check with National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster at nvoad.org.




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