The confusion and uncertainty following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the devastation resulting from Hurricane Katrina brought into sharp focus the vital role that each individual can play to build a more resilient nation by preparing his or her family and community for disaster.  The devastating effects of these disasters also reminded us how important it is for us to work collaboratively to prepare for disasters.  Individuals, families, communities, government, and the private sector all have a role to play in preparedness.

This month we join FEMA and numerous others in promoting September as “National Preparedness Month” and renewing our commitment to prepare our communities for disasters.  National Preparedness Month and FEMA’s Ready Campaign ( are designed to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities.

With a few simple steps, some not even costing a dime, you and your family can be more prepared.  Making a family emergency plan, assembling an emergency supply kit, and learning about possible threats in your area are all ways that we can improve our preparedness. Individuals can also sign up for FEMA’s Citizen Corps Program (, which trains and prepares people to be more responsive during emergencies and coordinates local activities that help make us safer and more resilient.

Businesses, both large and small, should also make every effort to plan for disasters by conducting a risk assessment, completing a business continuity plan, and storing emergency supplies.  The ability to get back to business as quickly as possible after a disaster will not only benefit your company, it will also support employees, customers, the local community, and the entire country.  If businesses are ready and prepared, the nation and our economy will be more resilient.

Our commitment to preparedness does not end with the month of September.  As Members of the Committee on Homeland Security, we will continue to seek ways to improve emergency management programs and policies to foster preparedness for all types of disasters.  Working together we can create a better prepared, more resilient nation.

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Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.), and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) authored this post and are serving as the House Congressional Co-chairs of National Preparedness Month 2010.