Column: Disaster preparedness: Are we ready?

Column: Disaster preparedness: Are we ready?

It is important to realize that the university does have plans for various natural disasters such as tornadoes and earthquakes.

However, Winter Storm Octavia caused a Level-two State of Emergency in Tennessee, leaving damage across the state, including our campus.

The university was closed for a solid week, a record in itself, and still, students had major difficulties across campus once classes resumed. Compared to other natural disasters, Octavia dealt very minor damage, but it begs the question: will we be ready if and when something bigger hits?

When classes resumed on Feb. 23, several students reported injuries sustained on and off campus. Even before classes resumed, there were reports of leakages in dorms and apartments but there was little done to aid the situation. Granted, there wasn’t much that could be done to prevent the icy sidewalks and parking lots, considering the rain that fell first would have melted any salt on the ground. Still, campus was shut down for an entire week, and the sidewalks and parking lots still weren’t cleared when students went back to class.

As said earlier, the damage was relatively minor, but considering the way the situation was handled, one can’t help but wonder if we are ready for a major disaster when that hits. Yes, we have emergency plans when these events do occur, but what good are these plans if we are so caught off guard by such a minor event as Octavia? If a major disaster, like a tornado or earthquake, were to hit our university, would the response be as slow and unorganized as it was with this storm?

If we have emergency plans for major natural disasters, why don’t we have drills to simulate what we would do in such an event? Yes, everyone gets annoyed with having to do safety drills, and it does take time out of everyone’s schedule, but being prepared for a major natural disaster would certainly be better for everyone rather than the mass panic and chaos that not being prepared when it does happen.

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