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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

You Never Know Who Will Step Up and Help

Natalie Johnson
Director Manitou Springs Art District
By Jana Mathieson

In 2013, the city of Manitou Springs knew they could be in for flood trouble. They were right. Businesses and residents had been told in advance that flooding was possible. But what did that really mean? What it meant was that people could not be in their homes, businesses shut down and services were interrupted. And yet, the city survived -- thanks in part to people being prepared.

Natalie Johnson, Director of Manitou Springs Arts District, accidentally attended a preparedness training, and that turned out to be stroke of good fortune. She hadn’t planned on going, but the training was being held in her building and she decided to pop in upon discovering a bit of free time in her day. The training opened her eyes to the likely threats facing her community and her business. After the training, Johnson got nervous and bought weather radios, set up a communication plan and trained her staff. However, she really didn’t know how bad it would be.

During the floods, over 4,000 people were fed, 2,000 volunteers coordinated and City Hall was temporarily set up at the Arts District. “It was amazing how people stepped up, and during an emergency you learn that it doesn’t matter what your business is, you help the community,” Johnson said.

Johnson will be sharing her story and advice at a presentation at the Rocky Mountain Business Preparedness Academy on September 30, 2014. As part of a panel of flood survivors, she and other community members will talk about what they learned and how to prepare better.

“There is always more to learn, more to do,” Johnson said. “You have to let people help and be a part of the process.”

To learn more about the Business Preparedness Academy or to register, visit www.redcross.org/RMBPA. The cost is $25.

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