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National Preparedness Month: Flooding

LAWTON, Okla._Oklahomans are no strangers to tornadoes, fires and floods, but just how prepared are you when these disasters hit?

This September, as part of National Preparedness Month, the Red Cross is encouraging families to come up with a plan. By going to redcross.org, you can find tips for handling different disasters. This week, the agency's focus is on floods.

In May, when the floods hit, many people found themselves unprepared for how swift the flood waters moved into Comanche County. Emergency management says being prepared can be as simple as making a plan and building an emergency survival kit.

Comanche County Emergency Management Director Michael Merritt says there wasn't a spot in Comanche County that wasn't affected by flooding that month.

"In some places, it was rising about four feet in about 15 to 20 minutes. We had some individuals that went in to do some rescues and stuff, and before they could get one family out they were stranded in there themselves," Merritt said.

Merritt says what many people went through should serve as a reminder to always be prepared.

"You have got to take initiative ahead of time. You can't just expect to grab something together, because if something comes up and they say ‘hey you have got to get out,’ it is not time to pack a bag or gather anything up or anything. You have got to go," Merritt said.

The Red Cross suggests you prepare a kit full of supplies beforehand. Making the kit airtight and include essentials like three days of food and water, a flashlight and a whistle.

Red Cross volunteer specialist Daniel Farrell says whether using a weather radio or checking an app, it is important when faced with a disaster to make sure you know what is going on around you.

"One of the main things that they need to do is stay informed about where those shelters will be setup, and also to stay informed about the flood. Being informed is one of the most important things to do when you are talking about a flood," Farrell said.

Merritt says when it comes to natural disasters, you never know what the weather will do.

"There is always that possibility that with Oklahoma weather, just hang around it will change again. We were in a drought and we had the drought buster rain and we will get back in a drought one of these days. It doesn't take long," Merritt said.

The flooding in May damaged 564 homes in Comanche County alone.

Cache and Lawton are looking at the possibility of buyout programs for houses that are on flood plains.

This year marks the 12th annual observance of National Preparedness Month across the United States since it was started by FEMA in 2004.

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