CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Be prepared for disasters, not scared.

Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and along with other organizations were offering that advice at the start of September which is National Preparedness Month.

When it comes to disasters, “West Virginians know more than most that it’s not a matter of if, but when,” said Dan Stoneking, external affairs director for FEMA’s Region Three.

“The No. 1 threat we face every year is flooding. In West Virginia alone, we’ve had five federally-declared disasters since 2016. We have FEMA staff on the ground right now helping West Virginians survive and overcome.”

FEMA recommended the following steps to prepare for disasters like flooding, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, tornados and power outages:

– Save early for disaster costs with an emergency fund.
– Make a plan to prepare for disasters.
– Teach young people to prepare for disasters.
– Get involved with community preparedness.

Emergency plans don’t have to be complicated, according to Stoneking.

“A plan can be as simple as everybody in the family knowing where to meet should a disaster strike,” he said. “A lot of folks don’t about it, but very often we’re separated when a disaster happens.”

Stoneking’s daughters are seven and eight.

“We’ve been through disasters. Disasters come in all sizes,” he said.

“There have been times where we get that alert notice that a storm is coming and we take precautions and I teach them, I take them to the basement and I walk them through that, if you do the right things and you prepare, it’s a lot less scary.”

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