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Piscataquis County: Bags Packed and Ready to Go


April 29, 2008


In Piscataquis County, senior citizens are putting together emergency preparedness kits. They are putting their supplies in a bright orange bag.

Called Go-Bags, they are designed to help citizens prepare for an emergency situation where they might need to evacuate to a shelter, or if they are stranded in their home. According to Thomas Iverson, director of Piscataquis County Emergency Management Agency, the bags contain information on assembling an emergency supply kit to include radios, extra batteries, flashlights, drinking water, food, medications and other items – everything needed to survive for at least 92 hours during a disaster.

“We also give them a template family emergency plan,” Iverson said. This plan helps seniors to plan for an evacuation, looking at locations and methods of transportation. Plus, it provides contact cards to give family members so that they remain in constant contact.

Each Go-Bag also includes a ‘File of Life,’ a compact form each person can complete with all of their medical information and leave posted on their refrigerator. “If something happens, you or an emergency responder can grab it and have all of your important information with you,” Iverson said.

The idea for Go-Bags was the result of collaboration between Rayna Leibowitz of Maine Emergency Management Agency, Piscataquis County Emergency Management, and the Eastern Agency on Aging’s Meals for ME program. “The Meals for ME coordinator is hand delivering them to the people that she serves,” Iverson said. “These are people out living often on their own,” he said. “She sits down with them, talks about emergency preparedness and the Go-Bags program, and finally issues them their bag.”

The program has been in the works for months. “We needed a way to reach out,” Iverson said. “We went with Meals for ME because they connect with these people every day,” he said.

Robin Lyford, area coordinator of Meals for ME, said the Go-Bags are a great resource. “I have been taking them in to all of my clients when I do home visits,” she said. “I explain that they can put anything they feel is important in the bag and keep it by the door. If there is an emergency, they can grab it and go.”

“It helps those seniors living on their own,” Iverson said, “to keep them informed and educated, and prepared for emergencies. It shows them, too, that the county does care, and that we are here for them.”

Response to the program has been strong. “It’s been excellent,” Iverson said. “I get calls from people wanting the bags,” he said.

Lyford agrees that area seniors are eager to participate. “They are really excited when they get the Go-Bag,” she said. “It’s just great to have a place to keep everything you need in an emergency.”

Iverson hopes to distribute 200 Go-Bags throughout the county in the coming months.

—Derek Mitchell



Piscataquis County EMA





Last update: 02/12/08