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FEMA helps Rockdale businesses prepare to respond to major emergencies

 FEMA Corps

Arisa Saluno, 22, and 10 of her team members will be visiting area businesses and distributing information in Rockdale County as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Corps program entitled “PrepareAthon!”


“We are getting out there and meeting people to let them know the best ways to be prepared for the worst,” said Saluno, a sophomore who is studying nursing at Wisconsin’s Viterbo University.


Saluno said she learned of the program in high school through a friend who completed the service mission last year. FEMA started the 10-month campaign in August with students educating businesses and communities in Washington, D.C.; Vicksburg, Mississippi; and Selma, Alabama. The group’s assignment in Rockdale County ends this month.


“The corps team is here to get residents and especially our businesses prepared for any type of major emergency,” said Rockdale County Fire Chief Dan Morgan, who is heading Rockdale’s month-long campaign.  


Morgan said not only should residents be ready for disasters, but businesses as well. The metro Atlanta area has faced two winter storms in the last month that shut down the area.  


“What if a disaster strikes where you need to stay inside the business for a day or a week. Is your business prepared to secure safety for the employers and customers? We always hear about preparing the home, but our businesses and community as a whole need to be prepared in case the worst situations strike,” Morgan said.


The Conyers-Rockdale Emergency Management Agency, the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office, FEMA, National EMS, Conyers Police Department, Rockdale Fire Rescue and the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce are all partnering with the safety outreach program.


“We all have to come together as a community to make sure we are all prepared for disasters. It is truly a shared responsibility,” said Candice Burrell, who is the FEMA community preparedness officer for Region 4, which includes Rockdale. “It will always take teamwork. From effective preparation and response to disasters, to recovering from destructive forces and emergencies, it’s about teamwork.”


Rockdale plans to host a PrepareAthon fair for the public on Saturday, March 8, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at 1400 Parker Road, Conyers. The fair will include demonstrations from area emergency response agencies; exhibits, jump houses and other activities for kids, and food.


Rockdale’s PrepareAthon campaign will conclude on Tuesday, March 25 with a disaster relief exercise.


Chief Morgan said interested residents and businesses are encouraged to visit the Fire and Rescue Departments Twitter and Facebook pages to sign up for the Code Red program in order to receive updates on upcoming drills and alerts. Information also will be provided on the Rockdale County homepage,

FEMA Corps, ages 18 – 24, serve full-time for a 10-month term with an option to extend for a second year. Members serve in teams of eight to 12. The program is open to all U.S. citizens in the 18 – 24 age group.  Members are given a living allowance of approximately $4,000 for 10 months of service; housing; meals; limited medical benefits; up to $400 a month for childcare, if necessary; member uniforms; and will become eligible for the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, which assists in paying for college.


If you would like to join this special service group, launched in 2012, just look for them in the community with blue shirts and jackets or visit and see the FEMA Corps page. 


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