Main Street Hartsville asks: Are you ready for the next disaster?
By Samantha Lyles
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. To help Darlington County businesses and residents ride out potential weather calamities and rebound strong, Main Street Hartsville facilitated a disaster preparedness webinar last week, hosted by nonprofit disaster relief organization SBP USA. “Just because there’s not that looming storm doesn’t mean that we don’t have things that we should be doing that would prepare us and get us in a place where we can be more resilient,” said Amanda Gallina, SBP Community Engagement Manager. Gallina urged everyone to gather supplies for an emergency kit and keep the contents up to date. Key items include: Water (1 gallon per person, per day); food (nonperishable, easy-to-prepare): supplies for infants, kids and pets; medications and medical items; first aid kit; flashlight; weather radio; cellphone with chargers; extra batteries; multipurpose tool; bedding and blankets; sanitation and personal hygiene items; whistle; map(s) of the area; important documents and a photo ID; extra cash. Store hardcopies of important documents in a safe place, such as a waterproof box, fireproof chest or safety deposit box. Consider entrusting a sealed copy of these documents to an out-of-town friend or an attorney, and upload digital copies to secure cloud storage. Families and businesses both need an emergency plan (where to meet, when to check in with each other, how to communicate), and should keep current copies of emergency plans for their schools, employers and other important organizations. Gallina said that since getting an “I’m okay” message out to everyone you love can be difficult during a crisis when cell towers and Internet connections are unreliable, you should consider designating one person as an information relay, and that person could send word to everyone on your emergency contact list. She also urged more neighborly concern, especially when it comes to elderly or disabled persons who might need help to evacuate, or supplies for a “shelter in place” period. “Sometimes our emergency plans don’t just have to involve immediate family, they could involve other people, so we encourage you to support your community in that way,” said Gallina. Another important step in disaster prep is reviewing your insurance coverage. Gallina noted that flood damages are not covered by a homeowners or renters policy, and said that everyone living in a flood risk area should have flood insurance, even if you live outside of a mandatory flood insurance zone. She added that just 1 inch of water getting into your home or business could cause $27,000 in damage, making flood insurance a smart choice for those who can manage the premiums. Also worth noting: Make sure you have a way to pay your deductible, should you need to file a claim. FEMA disaster assistance funding does not cover insurance deductibles. Gallina said that a current home inventory can make filing those insurance claims much easier, and SBP recommends using an app like Sortly or Memento Database to make the process easier. For more tips to help you cope with weather disasters and ease the path to recovery, visit www.sbpusa.org.