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COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS – When friends invited Gigi Kenna to attend a course called “When Disaster Strikes: Prepare, Act, Survive,” she didn’t know what to expect. However, since hurricanes, floods and other disasters regularly impact her coastal city of Calabash, North Carolina, she figured it couldn’t hurt to be prepared for disaster.

In the day-and-a-half course, participants learn how to be prepared and stay safe during disasters. They learn about physical safety, including search and rescue, breaking through walls and using levers to move heavy items. Additionally, they discuss the importance of developing a family response plan and how to safeguard personal documents. The course is funded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is offered at no cost to participants.

Although many people are familiar with the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) as a training provider for firefighters, police officers and other first responders, TEEX also trains everyday citizens to be prepared. TEEX has taught the “When Disaster Strikes” course to various community and nonprofit organizations, religious groups and other interested community members. TEEX instructor Nici English explains, “The more people in the community we can prepare, the better. The more prepared citizens are, the more weight it takes off of first responders.”

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After attending the course in another location, Kenna wanted to bring “When Disaster Strikes” to her community, so she convinced the board of her homeowners’ association to host it for local residents. In May, instructors from TEEX traveled to deliver the course to Kenna’s neighborhood, comprised mostly of retirees.

When asked about the benefit of taking this class, Kenna says, “It’s lifesaving. When disaster strikes, we need to help one another. That’s the main thing: helping to save a life. Even if it’s just one life, it’s worth it. It could be my own, my kids, or my neighbor. I would do anything for them, and they would do anything for me.”

As a former teacher, Kenna has always been proactive about helping others in her community and saving lives. She says, “That’s the way I was raised. If I can just help one person, it’s worth it.”

For more information, see https://teex.org/class/per334/. If you are interested in offering this course at no cost for a group in your community, contact Bill Dozier at [email protected].

Distributed by:
Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service
Vita Vaughn | Director of Marketing and Communications/CMO
[email protected]

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