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OUR VIEW: Now is the time to plan in case of a disaster

THE ISSUE: Residents evacuated during flood concerns
OUR VIEW: Planning for your family and your pets is key
When a mandatory evacuation was called by the city of Marseilles for residents most likely to be affected by floodwaters, Marseilles Police Chief Jim Hovious heard one question repeatedly:
"What do we do with our pets?"
At the time, displaced residents were not allowed to bring them to the Lions Club or American Legion, which is where residents were sent if they had no other place to go.
Thankfully, businesses — Paws Here Pet Resort, in Oglesby, Fox Valley Veterinary Clinic, in Ottawa, and perhaps others — stepped up immediately to offer boarding for displaced pets.
Yet, the exercise should call into action anyone reading.
Do you know where your family can go if they had to evacuate their home? Do you have a plan for your pets?
Most residents living in low-lying areas of Marseilles and Utica know the drill by now, having had to evacuate previously, but there are many others who have never experienced an evacuation before.
You don't have to live next to the river to be called into an evacuation: chemical spills, a long-term power outage, tornado damage, fire damage, etc. can displace residents in a moment's notice.
It's key for you and your family to be ready if that day comes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a website with plenty of tips for preparing for the worst. The CDC breaks it down into three categories — and getting a kit, having a plan and making sure you are informed.
An emergency kit should be able to keep your family safe for at least three days. It should include nonperishable food, health supplies, personal care items, safety supplies, electronics and necessary documents, such as insurance cards. It also should include food for any pets.
Consider these steps suggested by the CDC to plan ahead for your pets — make sure your pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date contact information; microchip them; purchase a pet carrier for each; and familiarize your pet with its transport crate before a crisis, have proper equipment for them to ride in a car; and have them up to date on shots (to board them, most places will require these).
Make sure to have a plan you and your family is aware of if you are asked to leave your home. Figure out where you can go and have emergency contacts ready. Be sure you can stay in touch with family, and also stay informed on the latest alerts either through a cellphone or portable radio.
Visit and make sure your family is ready.
Let's hope none of us have to deal with the suddenness of an evacuation, but if there's a good takeaway from this week's events, is that it's important to be as ready as possible.

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