Disaster Planning: O’Fallon City Departments Work Together
O'Fallon Police encourage residents to take a proactive approach to disaster management in the event of tornadoes, earthquakes and other severe weather.
When disasters strike, the City O’Fallon has a plan. The man behind the plan is Lt. Mike Grawitch of the O’Fallon Police Department. Since recently taking over the role of O’Fallon’s Disaster Planning, it is Grawitch's job to prepare for the unthinkable and keep residents safe.
“Right now the weather isn’t bad,” he said. “But at any given moment it could change.”
In the event of disasters like an ice storm, earthquake, tornado or other severe weather, the police department works with its Public Works Department and other city departments, to warn residents and take proper precautions.
“The public works department is the focal point for damage assessment,” Grawitch said. “They check bridges and overpasses.”
City workers and employees have emergency management training, he added.
O’Fallon currently has 16 sirens that sound when there is an emergency situation. City officials also use Twitter and Facebook accounts to update residents.
“We reserve the Twitter account for emergency information,” Grawitch said. “It’s just not to say hi this is going on. It’s for manhunts, road closings that sort of thing.”
Grawitch says while the city is doing its part, personal preparedness is also key in the event of a natural disaster. Flashlights, batteries, bottled water, dry food goods, a portable radio and a first aid kit are among the items Grawitch says every family should have in case of a power outage, inclement weather or earthquake.
Grawitch also said everyone should have a plan in place for disasters.
According to the FEMA website, in the event of a tornado, residents should go to the lowest level of their home, usually a basement or storm cellar. If there is no basement, they should go to an interior room of the lowest level. If you are outside lie in a depression or a ditch and cover you head with your hands.
During an earthquake, FEMA urges residents to cover their head and take cover under a table or in the corner of a room until the shaking stops. Those who are outside are encouraged to stay there and move away from buildings.
If a disaster strikes, the city assists with clean-up and other duties. Grawitch said few years ago, when severe ice storms hit O’Fallon, city workers and resident volunteers worked together to bring everything back to normal.
“We all band together to get the job done,” Grawitch said.