GREENFIELD — A disaster can strike at any time, leaving Hancock County families displaced or without food and water.
Local organizations are working to help the community prepare for those disasters by hosting a disaster exercise Wednesday.
Community Organizations Active in Disasters includes emergency response personnel, the Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Love in the Name of Christ and other local organizations. It was launched in August 2013 as a way to pull all of the county’s resources together to streamline emergency and disaster relief response.
Working under the county’s emergency management agency, COAD will work to fill the gaps for short-term, immediate and long-term recovery efforts. That includes finding food, water and shelter for residents who need it.
Love INC director Jim Peters said organizers have realized there are gaps that need to be filled in those areas of disaster management.
The exercise, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. at NineStar Connect, aims to highlight those gaps so the group can form a plan for addressing them.
Attendees will participate in a tabletop exercise. Organizers will present a disaster scenario, and participants must figure out the best way to move forward. The scenarios will vary and be related to food and hydration needs in a disaster.
Peters said he hopes to attract a wide cross section of residents to participate.
“The more people we have, the more input we can get,” he said.
The event will be a good opportunity for people who haven’t been involved in disaster preparedness to get some experience, Peters said.
Hancock County Emergency Management director Misty Moore said an organization like COAD, practicing and preparing for disasters, is beneficial to the community.
“Those organizations and volunteers will significantly help us in responding to some major disasters that might happen in the county,” she said. “For them to see what could happen and how we would respond and to have more people knowledgeable and trained in helping us … that is important.”
Organizers said they hope to use the event as a prelude to a larger exercise in the fall.
The event will begin after a short meeting and a dinner fundraiser.
BBQ’n Fools Catering in Greenfield will provide dinner, which will cost $20. Funds raised from the dinner will be donated to COAD, which has limited funding, Peters said.
Grant Ford, owner of BBQ’n Fools, has joined forces with COAD. If a disaster were to strike Hancock County, he hopes to be able to provide food to first responders and volunteers, he said.
The organization and exercise are important because they give the county an opportunity to practice and be prepared for severe weather and its aftermath, he said.
“We all have car insurance, life insurance and house insurance to be available when the unexpected happens,” he said. “This organization is insurance for the community to be prepared for multilevel disasters.”
Ford said it’s important for the community to have a plan in place should the unthinkable happen.
Peters echoed Ford’s sentiments and cited Joplin, Missouri, as a good example of a community that was prepared for a disaster. An F5 tornado tore through the town in 2011, causing massive damage.
Peters said the community’s response and action plan to address local needs were well-organized.
“We want to model what Joplin did,” he said. “They had it together. They had a plan, and they knew what everybody was going to do, and they just set out and did it.”
What: Disaster preparedness exercise
When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: NineStar Connect, 2243 E. Main St., Greenfield.
To attend the fundraiser dinner, which begins at 6 p.m., or the exercise, RSVP to Jim Peters at 317-372-2304.