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Time to prepare for severe storms

Recent storms in the Denton area and news reports of deadly twisters leaving a trail of death and destruction across several southern states this week are grim reminders that spring often spawns dangerous weather conditions.

That’s why it’s the season for a national initiative called America’s PrepareAthon!, which is designed to increase emergency preparedness awareness and help residents learn the steps necessary to survive emergencies at home, work, school, places of worship and other community locations, according to information provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Officials announced last week that the city of Denton is teaming up with FEMA for the initiative, and there are tornado drills scheduled today at Denton City Hall and FEMA Region 6.

“We’ve had a ready campaign that said know your risk, make a plan, build a kit and this day of action really says that once you’ve done that — if you don’t practice that — you’ll never know where the gaps are, and you may, when the time comes, not really know what your plan is,” said Tony Robinson, FEMA Region 6 administrator.

That’s good advice, and everyone needs to pay attention.

Remember those disaster drills that your teachers patiently explained and made you practice back in the day? Well, as they say, practice makes perfect.

“Unless you’ve gone through some drills, it’s almost impossible to know how it’s going to function in your setting — who do you call? Who is there at the department?” said Denton Mayor Mark Burroughs. “The whos and whats and hows have to be answered immediately, and someone has to have that information to be able to coordinate it quickly. It’s not easy unless you’re prepared and devote some resources beforehand.”

It’s important for residents to know how to handle disasters because neighbors often are the first responders, Burroughs told us.

Robinson suggested that families make a plan and build a kit with items such as nonperishable food, a radio, flashlights and a sleeping bag. Then he urged families, offices and organizations to practice emergency drills.

Officials also urge Denton residents to sign up for the Code Red system, which calls users who sign up for the service and provides severe weather alerts and other emergency information.

“More than anything else, it’s to get individuals feeling empowered that they can have information and there’s a way for them to participate and it keeps them aware and makes them think about it,” Burroughs said. “And if you’re thinking about it, you will be better prepared.”

More information about America’s PrepareAthon! can be found at

We urge all area residents to make sure they have a family emergency plan and practice it until everyone knows exactly what to do in the event of a dangerous storm or other disaster.

Area companies and organizations should also have a workable plan in place.

Remember: Spring is storm season in Texas, and we need to be prepared.

Our neighbors are depending on us.