This blog reported on the extensive wildfire season last year, and how areas like New Mexico and Colorado experienced mass evacuations in order to keep residents and business owners safe. However, a recent event further proved the need for towns to have up-to-date continuity of operations planning in place.
At the end of March, a leak in a natural gas line near Colorado Mesa University caused one home to explode and forced other residents to evacuate quickly. Nearby schools also evacuated, as gas seeped into the sewer system. The Grand Junction neighborhood is now preparing itself for future disasters, as local authorities said that many individuals forgot important items when they had to escape their homes.
According to NBC News, authorities are urging residents to prepare disaster kits and conduct tabletop exercises with their families. That way, in the case of an actual emergency, everyone will understand what they need to do to keep themselves and those around them safe.
Western Colorado Red Cross executive director Eric Myers told the news source that building an evacuation kit can save a lot of time when a disaster actually happens. It will also benefit emergency personnel, as they will not have to spend extra time with residents who need to repeatedly go back into their homes.
"Talk to kids about what to do if you've been evacuated from your house," he said. "It's like doing a fire drill like they do at school, but do [it] at home and do it frequently."
Harvest Reserve Foods is offering classes for residents, helping them make in-depth plans for possible evacuations and other emergency situations. Owner DJ LeBaron explained to NBC News that home is where individuals feel safest, but if they need to leave in a hurry, it's important that they have everything they need for three days.
In this situation specifically, LeBaron said that evacuated residents had no idea what was coming.