Preparing for Disasters

Staff & Wire Reports

National Preparedness Month

OhioEMA External Affairs

August 21, 2018


Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.

September is National Preparedness Month

Columbus, OH – This September for National Preparedness Month (NPM), the Ready campaign’s theme is: Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How. Preparedness is important. Everyone can take actions now to plan and prepare for disasters. Being prepared now allows individuals and neighborhoods the knowledge to be sustainable until first responders can arrive.

NPM is designed to raise awareness and to encourage everyone to prepare themselves for emergencies that could impact their homes, their businesses, their schools and communities.

“There is no better time than now to be prepared,” said Sima Merick, Executive Director of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. “Emergencies and disasters can happen at any time, often without any warning. Knowing what hazards or severe weather events could impact your area; practicing your emergency plans; updating your disaster supply kits – these are just some things everyone can do to be self-sufficient and to enhance community resilience.”

Additional NPM Actions to Prepare Now:

  • Organize disaster supply kits for your home and vehicles. A supply kit is a collection of basic items your household may need, in the event of an emergency. Most items in a basic kit are inexpensive and easy to find. And you might already have a lot of the items in your home. After a disaster happens, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Your disaster kits should have enough food, water, and other essential items to sustain everyone in your home (including pets) for at least three days.
  • Take time to learn life-saving skills – actions you can take to prepare for and protect against disasters and severe weather events. Install smoke, carbon monoxide and natural gas detectors and test them monthly. Know how to turn off utilities, like water and gas. Talk to your landlord or building manager about evacuation routes and fire safety. Know two ways out of your home in case of a fire and practice evacuation plans.
  • Check your insurance policies and coverage for the hazards that might impact your home or community, such as flooding, tornadoes or home fires.
  • Consider the costs associated with disasters. Consider saving money in an emergency savings account that could be used in any crisis. Keep a small amount of cash at home in a safe place. Have small bills on hand because ATMs and credit cards may not work after a disaster when you may need to purchase necessary supplies, fuel or food.

In coordination with FEMA’s Ready campaign, Ohio EMA and ReadyOhio encourage households, local emergency management agencies, businesses, schools, and places of worship to Prepare Now and Learn How by participating in NPM’s weekly themes for 2018:

  • Week 1: Sept 1-8 Make and Practice Your Plan
  • Week 2: Sept 9-15 Learn Life-Saving Skills
  • Week 3: Sept 16-22 Check Your Insurance Coverage
  • Week 4: Sept 23-29 Save for an Emergency

Visit ReadyOhio for additional information on National Preparedness Month’s weekly themes. Follow Ohio EMA on Facebook and Twitter for additional messages on NPM and emergency preparedness.

Top Scams For Senior Citizens to Look Out For

Columbus, OH (August 21, 2018) — Today is National Senior Citizens Day, and BBB wants seniors to beware of scams happening around Central Ohio. Although seniors are often told of the different ways they will be targeted, scammers still successfully fool consumers each day – no matter the age.

The following are some top scams designed to trick consumers, especially older generations, into giving up their money, property or personal information:

1. IRS Scam: In 2018, BBB has seen a rise in reported IRS Scams. Be wary if someone contacting you claiming to be an IRS representative asks you to act immediately. The IRS will give you the chance to question or appeal what you owe and usually does not call about a payment or overdue taxes unless they have first contacted you by letter.

If you owe taxes or you think you might, contact the IRS directly at 800-829-1040 or IRS employees can help you with a payment issue, if there is is one.

2. Sweepstakes Scam: If you have been told that you won a sweepstakes, you should not have to pay any money in order to claim your prize. This includes taxes, shipping and handling charges or any other types of fees. Remember that you also have to play to win. If you have been notified that you won a contest you never entered, that is a red flag. Real sweepstakes will also not contact you via text or bulk mail. They would not send you a check in the mail without first contacting you, and will not give you a time limit to claim your prize.

3. Tech Support Scam: Do not give a stranger access to your machine, even if you receive a convincing call or pop-up notification on your computer saying you have a virus. Granting someone remote access to your computer permits them to install malware and access your files. Be wary of anyone calling you and claiming to be from a big-name tech company, even if the Caller ID claims to come from Apple Support or another large business. Scammers often spoof phone numbers, so don’t always believe what you see on your phone.

4. Government Grant Scam: BBB wants consumers to know that The United States Government will not contact anyone directly for the disbursement of loans, or require that you pay any sort of fee to receive loans. If you receive a call stating you qualify for a government loan, simply hang up.

5. Debt Collection Scam: If you receive one of these calls, ask the debt collector to provide an official “validation notice” of the debt. In the U.S., debt collectors are required by law to provide this information in writing. The notice must include the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor, and a statement of your rights. If the self-proclaimed collector won’t provide the information, hang up.

Do not provide any bank account, credit card number, or other personally identifiable information over the phone. If the collector is legitimate, they should have details on the accounts in question.

Consumers are encouraged to report scams to BBB Scam Tracker to help protect others in the Central Ohio community.

For more information, follow your BBB on Facebook, Twitter, and at

About BBB

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2017, people turned to BBB more than 160 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central Ohio, which was founded in 1921 and serves 21 counties in Central Ohio.

Another Week Under Trumpocracy

By Mel Gurtov

Some takeaways from another week under He Who Would Be Emperor:

“All politics is local.” Speaking to local issues rather than echoing the official mantra may be the only way Democrats are going to win back the House. Campaigning in Pennsylvania, which you’ll recall with anguish that Trump won in 2016, probably reflects the kind of messaging it will take to flip the state. Rep. Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania, for example, is nearly morphed into a Trump-style Democrat.

Good news on the environment—and the rule of law. First, the fight to prevent the Keystone XL pipeline from being built continues, as a federal court has ordered a full environmental impact statement on the project. TransCanada, the pipeline builder, and its US and Canadian partners have been dealt a major setback on their revised route through Nebraska. Second, Trump’s effort to weaken the Obama-era Clean Air Act has had another setback. A judge has rejected the EPA’s effort—and the chemical industry’s lobbying—to delay by two years enforcement of the act’s tougher rules on chemical plant safety. (If you’re interested in donating to NGOs that have been stout defenders of the environment in court, may I suggest NRDC—the Natural Resources Defense Council—and Public Citizen. These folks are relentless, and successful.)

Another major piece of good news is that more than 400 newspapers, responding to a call from the Boston Globe, published editorials on the importance of a free press and protection of the First Amendment. The editorials clearly agitated Desperate Donald: He cried “COLLUSION” (would you believe it?) and wrote all sorts of stupid things to defend his belief in “true FREEDOM OF THE PRESS.”

On the other hand, there’s Trump himself: relentlessly racist, and with no fear of a kickback from the Republicans. To them, “it’s just his DNA” and the way he governs, say the few senators willing to comment. Paul Krugman points out how threatening Republican spinelessness is to our democracy, and therefore how crucial is the November elections to stopping what otherwise will be an even deeper assault on our governing institutions. The message: Live with it.

And then it’s the usual Trump tweet spray, complaining about fake news, diverting attention from his worst fears, adding to the pile of lies he has accumulated, deepening the rift with China, pretending all’s OK with North Korea, denouncing the Mueller “witch hunt,” and sending lap dog Rudy Giuliani hither and yon to defend him and continue the pretense that Trump might still be willing to talk with Mueller. And, oh yes, telling us again what a fine fellow Paul Manafort, avatar of corruption, is.

But it’s not just tweeting; it’s the actual damage to the nation. Revoking and threatening to revoke the security clearances of former senior intelligence officials, signaling an effort to punish everyone associated with the Russia investigation (and possibly adding to obstruction of justice charges); announcing another attempt to save the coal industry, by transferring regulatory authority from the federal government to the states, thus guaranteeing a worsening of air pollution; appointing lobbyists and lawyers who worked for the industries they now (de)regulate; transforming the bully pulpit into a pulpit for bullying aimed at silencing critics; planning even more tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals and corporations; carrying on a trade war that will hurt farmers and many other people who voted for him—these are among the many actions that show how Donald Trump has failed to fulfill the oath of office, in which he swore to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The bottom line: Can Trump and the Republicans continue to get away with outrageous behavior? Max Boot, conservative columnist for the Washington Post, says he/they might in 2020, but some figures are encouraging:

No matter how bad it gets, his approval rating never seems to fall far below 40 percent. (He’s currently at 42 percent approval in the FiveThirtyEight poll of polls.) It is thus easy to say that none of this matters. Easy — and wrong. Previous presidents who were in office during times of robust economic expansion, with low unemployment and a roaring bull market, generally had average approval ratings well over 50 percent. Trump’s egregious misbehavior consistently costs him at least 10 points in the polls.

So, dear friends, we’ll see.

Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.

Autistic visitors can proceed with lawsuits against Disney


Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Visitors with severe autism can move ahead with their lawsuits claiming Disney’s U.S. parks didn’t do enough to accommodate their need for scheduled routines and no waits on its rides, according to a federal appeals court.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week ruled that plaintiffs in 30 lawsuits can proceed in a lower court with their claims against Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. People with severe autism often have difficulties with social interaction and communication and often adhere to rigid routines.

A district judge in Florida had ruled previously that Disney was accommodating the autistic visitors and dismissed the claims in 2016. The autistic visitors appealed to the court in Atlanta.

Under the parks’ current program, Disney allows visitors with disabilities to get a special card giving them an “appointment time” to get on a ride after the specified time with little to no wait. The card allows them to get unlimited “appointment times” throughout the day and allows them to get on rides immediately if the wait is less than 15 minutes. Disney workers also have the discretion to hand out readmission passes to visitors with disabilities, allowing them to get back on a ride immediately.

The plaintiffs said in their lawsuit that the autistic visitors still endured virtual waits, if not physical waits, that often resulted in “meltdowns” since people with severe autism often have an inability to wait and express distress at small changes to their routines. Disney previously had allowed visitors with disabilities to go to the front of the line but changed the program in 2013 amid reports of abuse by people without disabilities. The new program for visitors with disabilities, though, disrupted set routines on the order of rides and didn’t allow autistic visitors to go on rides exactly when they wanted to, the plaintiffs said.

“It is the nature of the neurological disability that makes waiting an impossibility,” the plaintiffs had argued.

The plaintiffs said a solution would be to give disabled guests a pass guaranteeing they wouldn’t have to wait more than 15 minutes for all rides. But Disney argued that solution was no different than its previous program which was subject to abuse when nondisabled visitors would hire disabled guests to join their party so they wouldn’t have to wait.

In allowing the lawsuits to move forward, the appeals court said that the fact-finding coming out of the trials would help determine what is considered “necessary” to accommodate autistic visitors’ need for rigid routines and no waits. The judges said that Disney didn’t intentionally discriminate against the autistic visitors and that the question the district court will decide is whether Disney needs to modify its policies.

In a statement, a Disney spokeswoman said the company is reviewing the decision and evaluating what next steps to take.

“Disney Parks have an unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive and accessible environment for all our guests,” the statement said.

Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at

Staff & Wire Reports