BUCKHANNON — September is recognized as National Preparedness Month, which promotes family and community disaster planning. If you have a special love for animals, Upshur County’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) has a new way citizens can assist within their community – on the animal response team.
Have you ever wondered what happens to pets and animals during a disaster? Upshur County CERT now has the equipment available to shelter animals at no cost to owners!
Upshur County CERT instructor Steve Wykoff explained they have an immediate need for volunteers to staff the animal shelters during disasters. Becoming a volunteer does require training, but CERT offers the training for free. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age and pass a background check. Although they have a special need for animal response team volunteers, he said they need more participants in every facet of the organization.
According to Wykoff, this is also the perfect opportunity for a local animal rescue organization to partner with Upshur County’s CERT organization.
CERT received their animal trailer shortly after the animal response team’s program began in 2008. Upshur County Department of Homeland Security and Office of Emergency Management Director Brian Shreves is also the local CERT coordinator. He clarified that last known activation of the animal trailer was during Superstorm Sandy.
The theme for this year’s National Preparedness Month is: “Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.” Each week has been assigned a theme as well. Week 1 is “Make a Plan.” This involves talking to friends and family about how you will communicate before, during and after a disaster. Week 2 encourages “Build a Kit.” This involves gathering supplies that could last several days after a disaster for everyone living in the home and don’t forget to consider the unique needs each person and/or pet may have in case a quick evacuation is necessary. The theme for Week 3 is “Prepare for Disasters.” In order to do this, experts suggest limiting the impacts disasters have on you and your family by knowing the risks of disasters in your area and checking on your current insurance coverage. Week 4 is “Teach Youth about Preparedness.” Talk to kids about how they can prepare for emergencies, what to do in case they would get separated from family and provide them with ways they can get involved.
Don’t Wait! Make your plan today by becoming a volunteer with Upshur County CERT. They will be hosting training classes as soon as they receive authorization among the ongoing COVID-19 issues. Follow the Upshur County CERT Facebook page for updates.