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Preparedness Campaign Under Way

Government encourages disaster preparedness.

With members of Alexandria's Community Emergency Response Team standing behind him, Mayor William D. Euille said, "Government can only do so much. People have to be prepared for disaster. Not just terrorists, but natural disasters."

That was how he kicked off the City's year-long emergency preparedness campaign, designated "Be Ready, Alexandria," recently at Founders Park. The citywide education effort is designed to enable residents to be prepared for critical situations wrought by nature or humans.

Euille was joined at the podium by Councilmen Ludwig Gains and Rob Krupicka who serve as co-chairs of a special emergency preparedness arm of City Council. "Today is the culmination of a lot of hard work by citizens and staff. CERT members are Alexandrians who have stepped up to the plate. They are the driving force behind this effort," Gaines said.

"We are just two people in a large ocean of people who are making this happen. There is the Red Cross, Jaycees and citizens in places like Carlyle Towers and Park Fairfax. We have excellent fire and police departments and an excellent City Manager's office," Krupicka said.

"The goal of the Be Ready campaign is to make sure we're prepared for any emergency. If we do the job right we should see substantial improvement a year from now. We are only at the beginning of this journey," he said. "There are six Alexandrians in Florida right now helping because of their CERT training."

In reading the proclamation establishing Sept. 9 as "Be Ready, Alexandria Day," Euille said, "Sept. 9, 2004 is proclaimed by Gov. Mark Warner as Emergency Preparedness Day in Virginia. Emergency preparedness is intended to increase public awareness of the risks and planning necessary for all types of emergencies.

"Each of us must identify and understand the risks inherent to where we live and work, and take precautions to reduce those risks. Educational outreach identifies the important role that residents and businesses play in lessening the economic and human impact of disasters."

Joining Euille, Gains and Krupicka for the ceremony, in addition to CERT volunteers, representatives of the Red Cross, Alexandria Jaycees, Citizens Corps Council, and civic associations, were Vice Mayor Redella "Del" Pepper, Councilman Paul Smedberg, Del. Marian Van Landingham (D-45), Alexandria Fire Chief Gary Mesaris, City Manager Philip Sunderland, and Alexandria Emergency Management Coordinator Mark Penn.

FOLLOWING THE CEREMONIES, CERT volunteers and others began distributing emergency preparedness information door-to-door. This task will continue into 2005 until every resident and business in the City is contacted, according to Barbara Gordon, City public information officer.

On Saturday, Sept. 11, the third anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and The Pentagon, CERT members joined with other volunteers and the Alexandria Chapter of the American Red Cross to continue the educational process at Potomac Yards Retail Center. There they distributed information to shoppers about how to create a home and business preparedness kit.

Neighborhood groups, civic organizations, businesses and individual citizens who wish to work on the Be Ready, Alexandria Campaign or become a member of CERT should call 703-838-5594 and leave a contact name and number.