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Cities and towns use emergency preparedness strategies to assist residents, helping them get ready for natural disasters and other critical situations. A blackout is one of the primary threats these communities may face, one which could leave neighborhoods without electricity for hours.
Floods, hurricanes and tornadoes are just a few of the natural disasters that can bring on a blackout. Communities may encourage residents to have flashlights, first aid kits and other tools available in advance of these storms.
Additionally, officials in various areas can educate residents on the different types of blackouts they might encounter. These events may last a few hours or stretch over the course of several days, and communities that understand the differences can take steps to improve their recovery time.
For example, Hurricane Isaac struck the Gulf Coast of Louisiana on August 27, 2012. The storm flooded many towns in this region, and also left many homeowners without power.
"We have damage assessment teams on the ground in southeast Louisiana and repair crews are starting to restore power, so restoration has already begun," Entergy spokesman Chanel Lagarde told TIME. "But we're still being hampered by weather conditions, so that will slow us down."
The storm began as a tropical depression and developed into a hurricane as it approached Louisiana. Local officials have been working quickly to restore power throughout the area.
"We're asking for customers’ patience. It's been a very frustrating storm because it’s moved so slowly," Lagarde said. "We're asking customers to give us some time."
President Barack Obama has become involved in the disaster recovery, declaring a major disaster for Louisiana. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) plans to provide 36 parishes with funding for emergency support, and federal aid will be supplementing state and local recovery efforts.
One way to improve disaster preparedness efforts is to implement crisis communication systems like uAlert by Omnilert. uAlert provides efficient and reliable emergency notifications that can help residents in a town or a business' employees stay apprised of weather alerts, evacuation notices and other information. This cloud-based service notifies residents about emergencies by sending text messages, automated phone calls, emails and other notifications simultaneously to those in its system, providing instant and reliable information to those that need to stay safe.