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'Be Ready, Alexandria!'

hat's the name given to Alexandria's year-long emergency preparedness campaign to be launched Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. in Founders Park. Its purpose is to help local residents and businesses be prepared for emergencies -- natural or manmade.

As part of National Emergency Preparedness Month, members of City Council, Alexandria Citizen Corps Council, Community Emergency Response Team [CERT] graduates, Alexandria Fire Department, Alexandria Jaycees and civic association representatives will all participate in the kickoff ceremonies at the park located off North Union Street, between Oronoco and Queen streets.

This will be followed on Saturday, Sept. 11, the third anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and The Pentagon, with a community awareness event at Potomac Yards Retail Center on Jefferson Davis Highway, Route 1. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Plans, being finalized, call for "an all-out effort to educate the community on how to create emergency preparedness kits," according to the Citizens Corps Council. Area partners in emergency preparedness and City agencies will participate, along with Potomac Yard and other area merchants, in highlighting supplies that can be acquired in local stores for such kits.

Representatives from the Alexandria Citizens Corps Council, CERT, and the Alexandria Chapter, American Red Cross, will be joined by other organizations in distributing instructions to shoppers about creating a home and business preparedness kit. Such kits are an essential element of the CERT training program conducted under the aegis of the Alexandria Fire Department.

Following the Founders Park event, emergency preparedness literature will be distributed door-to-door throughout the City. This effort will be continued over the next year until "all the City's 135,000 residents and 8,000 businesses have been contacted through this outreach effort," said Barbara Gordon, City public information officer.

On Sept. 10 at noon, a 9/11 remembrance ceremony is scheduled to be held at Market Square in front of City Hall. Residents and City employees are encouraged to attend.

Those wishing to volunteer to work on the "Be Ready, Alexandria!" campaign or become a member of CERT are encouraged to call 703-838- 5594 and leave a contact name and number. CERT Volunteers are also being sought for the Sept. 11 event at Potomac Yards.

A minimum of 25 are needed. Volunteers for both events are being asked to make contact no later than Friday, Sept. 3. Special T-shirts will be distributed to all volunteers, according to Alexandria Fire Department.