Ariz. emergency planners urge residents to be prepared for disasters

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- With millions of people on the East Coast left without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Arizona emergency planners urge locals to take note and get prepared.

Phoenix resident Brett Kurland, who has family and friends in New York, described the biggest challenges they're facing in the wake of the storm.

“It's been the lack of power and all that comes with it,” Kurland said.

Lack of communication is proving to be one of the biggest challenges.

“When I did talk to [my parents], I was telling them what was going on,” said Kurland, who said access to radio or television has been limited for his family.

“We are becoming more and more dependent on electricity,” said Stanley Brown, a planner with the Maricopa County Department of Emergency Management.

Brown said that dependence makes people vulnerable in times of disaster. He urges people to stock supplies needed to survive for at least three days on their own, including a crank radio and cellphone charger, flashlights, as well as basics such as food and water.

“Be a survivor, not a victim,” Brown urged.

Maricopa County's Emergency Management Department is currently reviewing its own crisis plan, a plan which is reviewed each year. 

“We look at these situations and try to place them as though we would be going through the same thing here,” said Emergency Management Director Pete Weaver.

Weaver, who also has family in New York, said he's not only thinking of them, but how Arizona can learn from the disaster. He said early communication and preparedness both prove key, even if Mother Nature may be unpredictable.

Emergency planners know that no region is immune from disaster.

“Historically, flooding has always been our highest repeating disaster in Arizona," Weaver said. "[Sandy] is a good wake-up call for people to be ready to be on their own for 72 hours.”

For more information on how you can get prepared, go to