September is national preparedness month. Are you and your family ready for the next emergency?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, urges everyone in the community to spend time planning for the worst, with a fairly straightforward and simple slogan: "Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today."

As if 2020 hasn't been crazy enough already, the record-breaking hurricane season is far from over. But some disasters are much more localized, and, for example, might involve a busted pipe in your home or a fire in your backyard.

In the above video, our Chief Meteorologist Burton Fitzsimmons spoke with the director of FEMA's Office of Disability Integration and Coordination, Linda Mastandrea, about specific steps of action we should all take to be as prepared as we can be for the next disaster.

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BF:  My guest today is Linda Mastandrea, the Director of the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination for FEMA. Thanks for joining us. 

LM:  Thanks for having me. 

BF:  So September is National Preparedness Month. I mean, in a year that has just been so crazy with the pandemic, and now we've had a record hurricane season, talk about how your office is trying to get people ready for that next disaster. 

LM:  Sure. So our theme for the month is Disasters Don't wait. Make your plan today. And this is a really important thing to think about. You know, we've been confronted with some challenging months with the Coronavirus and, and people are not as focused perhaps on the idea that natural disasters can be happening still, at any time in the midst of this and so our focus right now is really reminding people that right now is the best time to plan. 

BF:  I read a sobering statistic that 60% of Americans think they are already prepared and 10% say there's no need to prepare.  How do you get through to people that this is serious? And this is important? 

LM:  Yeah, that's a really good question. I think, I think what we need to do is just remind people that it's not scary, right? And that the thing is that by thinking about things in advance by planning, and by preparing that we're better able to handle these things, then they're not shocking. They're not surprising, right? And it's, it's important for all of us to recognize that it's not just our hurricane, a flood of fire, you know, you may have a pipe burst in your house, you may have, you know, a fire in your yard that just, you know, damages your home and it may not be this big, large scale disaster that sometimes people have trouble wrapping their heads around. When I talk to our viewers about being storm ready. We talked about having a grab bag and having enough medicine and water and things like that.

BF:  What are some of the key points that you want to hit home as far as preparedness for every family? 

LM:  Sure. So there's a couple of things. First of all, you need to make a plan right and so that's sitting down with your family and discussing what you what particular disasters your family faces, you know, is it earthquake is it hurricane is it flood tornado and understanding what you have to do for those particular disasters and the thing that's also important is to remember that it's it's full family endeavor right? Even young kids can participate in making a plan because they're part of the family. And so you want to not scare anybody but just engage them in the discussions and work with them on you know, on how to evacuate how to put together their go bed for exam. If you have family members with disabilities for example, what did they need to put in there go back and there's there's some really good resources out there that can help families and individuals to prepare the website has checklists, tools and and really great information to help families navigate what can be, you know, a confusing and maybe daunting process. 

BF:  And it's such a challenge right now with the COVID pandemic continuing. It's September. Yes, but we need to be prepared every month of the year. That's for sure. Linda Masta Andrea, Director of the Office of Disability integration and coordination for FEMA, thanks so much for your time.

LM:  Thank you.