Midwesterners need to prepare as climate changes increase power of weather disasters

In recent years extreme North American weather events have been all over the headlines. As our planet earth goes through human induced climate change, weather systems are affected by rising sea levels and warming oceans. Scientists are busy researching the changing weather and warning humans of what to expect as climate change speeds up. Rising ocean temperatures make weather events like hurricanes worse by supercharging storms. Warm surface waters of the ocean provide extra energy for hurricanes and other tropical cyclones, increasing their frequency and danger. 

It does not matter where a person lives, from west coast to east coast, extreme weather events are on the rise. The Midwest is no exception. The area may not be bordering an ocean, but weather events like super cell storms, tornados and derecho events are more frequent and stronger according to state climatologists. 

With urgency, some states even go as far as to offer their citizens pre-made go kits or bug out kits that are backpacks filled with 72-hour survival supplies, including flashlight, food and medical supplies. Some cities are desperate for citizen participation and offer the kits for free, and some cities will offer a discount to at least ease the cost for individuals and families. Ready.gov offers information for what should be in an individual and family emergency kit, and instructions on how to plan for a weather emergency situation.

Midwesterners are you prepared?

A state like Iowa is known for its strong storm systems that go through any time of the year, and citizens should always be prepared for these events. In questioning some Cedar Falls citizens about their preparedness, more often than not they did not have a kit or a minimal kit. The mayor of Cedar Falls when needed will post weather warnings on Facebook for potential extreme storm events and will remind citizens to have their emergency kit ready.


Mayor Rob Green responded to these two questions about emergency kits:


  1. What are the three most important items in your emergency kit as mayor and your three most important items in your emergency kit for your family?


I recommend that Cedar Falls residents follow the guidance provided on the Black Hawk

County Emergency Management’s “How to Make an Emergency Kit” page at

http://bhciaema.com/emergency-kit. The three most important items in my kit are a (1)

NOAA Weather Radio, (2) flash light and (3) copies of my family’s identification cards and

insurance papers. In an emergency, I would also add bottled water, pet food, canned

goods, our first aid kit and prescription medication. In our basement is a very large

Coleman airtight cooler that I would put all these items in, if we have to pack up and

quickly leave home.

I don’t have a separate emergency kit as mayor, but I would certainly bring my copy of the

City Multi-Hazard Emergency Operations Plan with me, since that contains the guidance for

how the city will respond to a disaster. While every disaster situation is unique, it’s vital to

have a general idea of how everyone in the government is supposed to respond.



  1. Has the city of Cedar Falls ever considered offering for sale, premade emergency kits, or GO bags like in other cities? 


As far as city sales of such kits, given that every family’s situation is different, I would not presume that the city could create a kit that would match everyone’s needs, so I believe this is best left to individuals to create for themselves. We’ve not talked about it at the City Council before, but if you see other cities doing this, I encourage you to reach out to the council at citycouncil@cedarfalls.com to express your support for such an emergency kit offering.


If you or your family is not prepared for a weather emergency, take charge of your safety by getting one together. Start with a place to stash the emergency kit that you’ll remember where it is so that you can grab and go, or know where it is stored permanently. As suggested by the mayor and Cedar Falls City website, customize your kit to suit your needs. Some very important items to have are flashlights, an emergency weather radio, copies of identification, water supply, medical kit and food if possible. There’s a range of items that a family or individuals might need like charged cell phones, sturdy shoes and blankets. Prepare these items and put them in a waterproof container or weather-ready backpack, store in the area in your house that you go to for safe shelter, usually a room with no windows, or in the middle of your house.

Now that you and your family have your emergency kit prepared, you can have some ease of mind knowing you are in a position to protect yourself and your family!

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