By JOSEPH MARTIN
ONE FEATHER STAFF
While the coming of Hurricane Florence may have been an unfortunate coincidence, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians kicked off National Preparedness Month on Tuesday, Sept. 11 in conjunction with the American Legion Steve Youngdeer Post’s Sept. 11 commemoration of the victims of the terrorist attacks and those who risked and lost their lives trying save others.
Preparing for what’s predicted to be a rough winter was part of the motivation for the exercise. EBCI Public Safety Director Mollie Grant said the purpose was to get tribal programs, departments, and communities prepared for the winter. “As usual, we have an event where we have to come together as a community and take care of the elders and the homebound. So, we kind of want to get a jump start on that. Today was all about getting the community to come out.”
A proclamation signed by Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed said, “’National Preparedness Month’ creates an important opportunity for all residents of the Qualla Boundary and tribal lands to survey, assess and evaluate various needs in their homes, business and communities for emergency situations – either natural or man-made to heighten their readiness levels for potential crises or catastrophic events.”
He said in the past few years, the Tribe has endured some of the most severe weather, including a blizzard, flooding and mud slides. “Individuals, families and communities need to be prepared for any emergency and help people achieve optimum levels of readiness. They are encouraged to join their communities’ free labor groups.”
Chief Sneed urged tribal members to educate themselves and create emergency preparedness plans. “We are proud to join with the Emergency Management program to observe National Preparedness Month and to engage the enrolled members and visitors in emergency preparedness.”