WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — September is Natural Disaster Awareness Month and there has certainly been plenty of recent examples from coast to coast.

From flooding in the east to wildfires out west, these disasters drive home the importance of proper preparedness.

Emergencies can occur quickly as was the case last week when remnants of Hurricane Ida practically pushed Solomon Creek to the brink and triggered evacuations. It highlights the importance of preparedness when every minute counts.

A deluge is about the only way to describe the torrential rain that fell last week on much of northeastern and central Pennsylvania, the result of what once was Hurricane Ida.

“The storm picked up pace a lot sooner than people thought it would so it underscores the importance of preparing well and preparing early,” Tulane University Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy Senior Fellow Monica Sanders said.

Sanders should know. Besides her role at Tulane University’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy, she is also a survivor of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. Being prepared, she says, starts with small steps.

“So have your go kit, meaning if you’re going to evacuate or shelter in place, ready. Have your two to three days of food and water, your two to three days change of clothes, batteries, cash in case there’s no power or if gas pumps are out, fuel your car,” Sanders said.

And also have your medication ready to take with you. When fleeing floods or other disasters and heading to a shelter or hotel, keep in mind we are still in the throes of a pandemic.

“We’re dealing with a pandemic and disaster season at the same time and so disinfecting everything and keeping things clean is so important during COVID-19, right. Besides wearing the mask, keeping things clean is the next best thing you can do to prevent infection,” Sanders said.

Have extra masks handy, too. Sanders say the biggest mistake many people make during an impending disaster is ignoring the word to evacuate.

“Pay attention to local news and sign up for those text alerts and once you get the warning, heed the warning because things just happen so fast. Even if you think it can’t happen to you the reality of it is it’s not a question of if, it’s just when,” Sanders said.

Proper planning is what it’s all about.

To learn more about being disaster prepared and staying safe for the sake of you and your family visit www.ready.gov and www.clorox.com.