Story by Douglas R. Young, CEM

Going through a storm can be very horrific. Seconds can feel like minutes and minutes like hours. When the time comes that you have to seek shelter from a storm, you leave your home with things still somewhat in order, your lawn manicured and picture perfect. Your only thoughts are to get to a safe place until it has passed, but when you return you never could have imaged the power of the storm.

When you return and see the damage that had occurred in 180-300 seconds, such as tree limbs from your yard now lying across the front of your home and as you enter, you see your furniture and possessions scattered everywhere or even gone. Then, you realize you can see the sky because the roof has caved in from tree limbs or been blown way, you are so overwhelmed and you just can’t wrap your brain around all the destruction. As you continue through your home and then around your yard, now you see an entirely different picture. You see that your whole families’ lives have been ripped apart and thrown all across the neighborhood. You wipe the tears away and think I WISH I HADDA….


  • Made copies of my family pictures and important documents, like insurance polices, certificates, etc. and placed them in a safe place like a safety deposit box or a family member’s home
  • Taken pictures of all my valuables, like collectables, heirlooms, china, tools and such to show to my insurance agent for claim
  • Documented serial numbers and made a back up of my computer files
  • Cut the dead limbs out of the tree next to my house
  • Taken a first aid and CPR course

I WISH I HADDA is something we all tell ourselves after something happens. Take the time now and seek assistance from your insurance agent or local emergency manager and ask them how to be better prepared to recover after a disaster and start getting your home in order.

I hope I have given you something to start thinking about now before a storm and to prepare yourself, family, business, friends or church for the next storm in your life. Start today! And turn your, I WISH I HADDA into I HAVE and I’m prepared! Starting tomorrow maybe too late.

Mr. Young is Person County’s Director of Emergency Services. He is a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) by the International Association of Emergency Mangers, North Carolina Executive Emergency Manager, and a Virginia Professional Emergency Manager. He currently serves on the Faith Base Caucus for the International Assoc. of Emergency Managers Assoc., Chair of Duke Medical Center’s Healthcare Preparedness Coalition, and member of the North Carolina Emergency Management Assoc. Training Committee. He has served as President of the Virginia Emergency Management Assoc. and the Piedmont Criminal Justice Academy. Past Board of Director member for the Virginia Chapter of the National Emergency Number Assoc., and served 6 years on the Governor of Virginia’s EMS Advisory Board.