Deadline Now: Preparing for a Disaster
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Deadline Now: Preparing for a Disaster

Friday, September 21, 2012 at 8:30 p.m.

Extreme weather, industrial accidents, terrorist attacks -- how prepared is our state and region for an emergency? What can we, as private citizens, do to withstand an emergency? Nancy Dragani, Executive Director of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, and Joe Walter, Director of the Lucas County Emergency Management Agency, are this week's guests.

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Here are host Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of "Deadline Now:"

A geologist once described the earth to me as being like an orange that is constantly buffeted by the wind, and with a fair amount of turmoil going on beneath it. And man and all civilization is a very thin layer of mold on the skin of the orange. In other words, fragile.

Today, it is fashionable to say that we are spending too much on government, and should cut back at all levels. Yet I have never heard anybody caught up in a disaster say that any of the various emergency management agencies had too many resources.

In times of great disasters, like the Katrina hurricane seven years ago, state, local and even federal resources seem too pitifully inadequate.  Yet figuring out how much is needed is only a small part of the problem. If you are running the agriculture department, you at least know when harvest season is, and you can see a major drought coming. If you are in emergency management, you seldom have much or any warning, of either natural or man-made disasters.

They come when they come, and those affected can’t wait till the legislature passes a special appropriations bill or it is convenient to send aid. People generally need help more or less immediately.

We’ve also been very fortunate over this nation’s history. We haven’t had a single event like the Indonesian tsunami that killed nearly two hundred thousand people eight years ago.

Nor have we lost millions to famines or epidemics. We’ve never had anything resembling a nuclear holocaust or meltdown, and everybody hopes we never will. But sooner or later, there are bound to be cataclysmic events large and small, for which some or all of us will need help. Nancy Dragani and Joe Walter run agencies that are each doing what they can to be prepared and ready.

Their goal, to some extent, is never to be needed. If they are, their mission is to do their jobs so efficiently and quickly that we almost take disaster relief for granted. Which, of course, is the one thing that we should never do.