Get Ready for the Unexpected with a Disaster Go Bag

Get Ready for the Unexpected with a Disaster Go Bag
Ciera Waller, of the Bronx, updating her

Preparing in advance with a disaster-ready kit, or “go bag,” has helped families nationwide through extreme and abnormal weather events, which experts warn are on the rise.

Ciera Waller, who lives in the Bronx, is not only familiar with her basement apartment flooding but expects it. So, when the threat of Hurricane Ida became a trending story, she prepared a go bag for what seemed inevitable. 

"The water began to enter my home little by little," Waller said. She attempted to combat the disaster with a mop in hand, which usually takes care of the problem. "I was mopping for about an hour, and then the water poured in like a waterfall. I couldn't believe this was happening." 

She became increasingly concerned as the water in her apartment grew from puddle to pool.

The flooding waters barricaded one of her doors, and the kitchen and bathroom windows were too small to escape through. Waller struggled to find an exit. Armed with rain boots and the hope of not losing everything she had, Waller continued to move personal items to higher ground. 

“I had to keep moving. I was scared to stop moving," she said.

A door connecting to her neighbor's apartment provided a way out as well as support from a friend. "I remember my neighbor saying just grab your important things," said Waller. So with her go bag in hand, she quickly packed her passport, wallet, and tablet. Before the water rose to knee-level, Waller was able to leave safely. 

Ciera Waller, of the Bronx, updating her "go bag." As one of Jehovah's Witnesses, Waller has made use of resources on jw.org to prepare for unexpected emergencies.  She credits this advance preparation with helping her to escape a house flood during Hurricane Ida. - PHOTO COURTESY OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES

New York City's Emergency Management department recommends go bags for all New Yorkers. This emergency kit should be easy to carry and include essentials such as bottled water, non-perishable food, flashlights and medication. New Yorkers are also urged to think ahead about unique needs, such as tire repair kits for their wheelchair or scooter. 

 Taking these practical steps kept Waller safe. Within the weeks prior, she assembled a go bag with items including additional clothing, food and medicine. These were essential to sustain her during the days following the disaster.

Waller credits the disaster-preparedness help received as Jehovah's Witnesses, both through periodic reminders at their congregation meetings and from tips for putting together go bags on the organization's website, www.jw.org.

"Life is precious, so we encourage all to heed the Bible's advice to take practical steps to protect ourselves from danger," said Robert Hendriks III, spokesman for Jehovah's Witnesses in the United States.

A go bag gave Waller the confidence to leave her home behind, which she said saved her life. "If we prepare in advance, we don't have to worry about what we may lose or whatever situation we may be in," she said.

Disaster-preparedness suggestions and tips for putting together a go bag are available from FEMA at ready.gov and from Jehovah's Witnesses at jw.org.

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