Claiming the lives of eight individuals across the region, last year's floods also affected residents in the southern most part of Bartow County near Pumpkinvine Creek and Lake Allatoona. Local authorities urge all citizens to be prepared for any disaster.
Bartow County Fire Chief and Deputy Director of the Bartow County Emergency Management Agency Craig Millsap asks residents to be engaged in their family's safety by heeding warnings and acting accordingly, especially those living in flood prone areas.
"When warnings and stuff are issued either through the National Weather Service coming over a radio broadcast or television broadcast or you hear a warning siren, take that notice early. Don't wait to see if things are going to get worse. If you live in a low-lying area, don't wait until the water is high and it turns into a rescue situation when you could have gotten out an hour early," Millsap said.
Being ready for any disaster means taking the steps necessary to prepare for not only floods but tornadoes, thunderstorms, winter weather and any unforeseen risk such as fire. Having a point of contact is emphasized by Millsap; he suggests someone outside of the disaster area predetermined for separated family members to contact in case of power and phone outages.
"We are a fairly mild climate but we are subject to those storms that come through quite frequently. We do sometimes suffer flooding like we've had in low-lying areas, we have had a significant number of tornadoes over the long-term history of this county and things like that. But there is general preparedness things that people can do that apply to any disaster," Millsap said.
An item being heavily promoted by state and federal EMAs as well as the Red Cross is the disaster supply kit. A must-have for all homes, according to Bartow County EMA Director Johnny Payne, the disaster supply kit helps provide basic necessities to accommodate a disaster survival scenario. Kits should contain a three-day food and water supply for each person, flashlights and batteries, matches, a weather radio, vitamins and prescription medications, pet supplies if needed, important documents, cash, extra clothing, a first-aid kit and a number of other suggested items. For a complete list of disaster supply items, visit www.ready.ga.gov/prepare.
"You need to be prepared for any disaster by having a disaster kit," Payne said. "And that's for winter storms, tornadoes, flooding, you know, whatever. So that same kit works for all of it.
"We're coming up on winter weather with ice and snow on the roads. You know when you get a flake or two everybody runs to the store but they don't need to, they ought to already have nonperishable stuff in there."
The mission of the Bartow County EMA is to plan, prepare, respond and rescue. To help them do their job more effectively and efficiently, families can plan for their own temporary sustenance.
"It may be a while before rescue is able to get to you or help is able to get to you and you have to be kind of self-sufficient from that standpoint," Millsap said. "Anytime that people are prepared, that takes one thing off of us because we're in this business to help people. If we weren't in that business then there really wouldn't be a need for us and it takes a special person to do that. People in fire, EMS, law enforcement, all your emergency responders and public works as well they're people who care and want to help people.
"The less work that we have to do in dealing with those individuals lets us handle a bigger response. It gives us a chance to utilize our resources for other things that we would normally have to do taking care of individual needs. So by being self-sufficient like that it takes a good burden off of us that allows us to take care of more pressing issues such as life saving."
For more information on disaster preparation, visit www.bartowga.org/ema or www.ready.ga.gov.