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Disaster Summit Improving Emergency Preparedness

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People from all corners of West Virginia gathered at West Virginia Wesleyan College on Tuesday to discuss disaster preparedness.

It's a topic that emergency personnel have always discussed. But now other community groups are pitching in to see what they can do, after the derecho last summer and Superstorm Sandy in the fall.

"First and foremost, the best thing this kind of event can do is create relationships. The one thing you never want to do is try to figure out who someone is in the middle of a disaster. You want to have everybody's phone number in your cell phone before a disaster happens," said Jennifer Posten, who works with the national group Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters.

Many emergency departments are familiar with each other, but one of the topics was working with volunteer agencies to bring their resources to bear in the response AND recovery of disasters, especially after the immediate emergency ends.

"This has been really effective in getting all of those partners together, those folks who you wouldn't necessarily think would normally work together, and we're able to bring them into a group setting so they can discuss what their capabilities and capacities are as an individual agency, and how they can help the success of the recovery effort statewide," said Anyssa Core with the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

It's a cause close to home for many area counties. Barbour County Director of Emergency Management Cindy Hart said she and her staff have been looking at their plans after each event, and will have a lot to take from today's event.

"Each time we had an event last year and earlier this year, we went back and reworked those plans because we realized that they were not inadequate, the just needed updated, so I'm taking a lot out of this conference today," said Hart.

The event wraps up on Wednesday. You can find more information on the summit here.