Monday, April 22, 2024

Preparing for a more resilient community

Staff Writer | December 17, 2021 1:00 AM

For those struggling to make ends meet, the idea of preparing for emergencies can seem daunting.

But the Kootenai County Office of Emergency Management's "Preparedness for a Cause" drive is here to help. 

On Wednesday, OEM volunteers created 100 preparedness kits for individuals facing economic hardships. 

Once packed, OEM Director Tiffany Westbrook said the shoebox-sized kits would be distributed to clients of the Union Gospel Mission for Women and Children, Newby-ginnings and Habitat for Humanity of North Idaho.

"For a lot of people, preparedness goes on the back-burner," she said. "By providing them these kits, individuals can build upon them and at least put it in their mind that there's something they can do to create a more safe, resilient family and community as a whole." 

The OEM team set a goal in November to donate 100 kits to community members in need. With the help of local businesses and organizations, Westbrook said the kits would be filled with emergency supplies.

Items in the preparedness kits include flashlights, utility tools, gloves, emergency blankets and duct tape.

Kits also contained templates for developing a family emergency plan and customization recommendations for individuals with children or pets. 

"This is just something that people don't necessarily think of but does help us create a more resilient community, and that's the goal," Westbrook said. "That's what our office is here for."

Twelve-year OEM volunteer Gerald Martin participated in the drive and said it inspired him to create a better kit for his home. 

"I probably have individual stuff throughout the house, but not in one centralized location," he said. "I think for the target audience, people who are starting over, I think this is perfect." 

Former Kootenai County Sheriff Capt. Kim Edmondson also helped pack kits Wednesday. Edmonson said the drive would resonate with many community members considering the recent tornadoes across the eastern United States. 

"I think this is fantastic and timely," she said. "There are too many needs out there that need to be met." 

The top five items Westbrook said the OEM recommends people have are water, canned food and a radio, flashlight and alternate heating source.

Supplies for the kits were donated by AAA, Ace Hardware, Seright's, Avista, Costco, Home Depot, Kootenai Amateur Radio Society, Kootenai Electric Cooperative, the Kroc Center, Phillips 66, RACOM and Ziply Fiber. 


Kootenai County Office of Emergency Management Director Tiffany Westbrook, left, and former KCSO Capt. Kim Edmondson volunteered at the inaugural "Preparedness for a Cause" drive on Wednesday. (MADISON HARDY/Press)


Kootenai County Office of Emergency Management volunteer Ed Stuckey stands next to a stack of emergency kits packed at the "Preparedness for a Cause" event on Wednesday. (MADISON HARDY/Press)