BY MELANIE WADE –
In times of crisis, it is always best to be prepared. No matter how big or small that crises may be, having supplies handy or exit routes planned ahead of time, makes the dilemma much easier to bear. That philosophy is what The Mena Ark, Community Based Disaster Preparedness Group lives by and hopes to pass on to others.
The group gathers once a month to learn from one another. Topics vary and each can provide valuable information, whether it’s learning how to use activated charcoal for the smallest of cuts to learn how to “structure” water for better plant growth. They also discuss what to do in the case of larger events such as a tornado, and even an earthquake.
The group was formed by husband and wife team, Merwin and Laura Abbott. The couple has longed lived a prepared life, making sure they have food and medicines stocked and other items that most people would never think of. Those are the types of things that are discussed during their meetings. “We talk about growing better gardens, living healthier, and what lessons we have learned from the past,” said Merwin Abbott.
The group that attends has their choice of participation level in each meeting. Each person can either sit and enjoy the presentation or bring something about disaster preparedness to share with the grop: a helpful tip, a story, or a show-and-tell, such as member Jeff Flanagan shared at their last meeting when he showed others how to “structure” water using a simple bucket and a stir stick. Flanagan said, “Merwin asked me, ‘Do you really think that does anything?’ I said, to be honest, I don’t know, but it’s fun and it doesn’t cost me anything. All other claims are unproven.” Laura Abbott discussed packing backpacks that have 72 hours worth of supplies that will get you through almost any catastrophe.
Rae Grasso discussed several items of interest, including having earthquake insurance. Living so close to the New Madrid seismic zone that sits in northeastern Arkansas, Grasso feels it is important to keep up the insurance just in case. In most cases, members talk for 5-15 minutes and meetings last around two hours.
Laura Abbott also encouraged others to think not only about their own disaster preparedness, but to think ahead on how they can help others who face them. Other topics often include local medicinal plants, how to live in primitive conditions, how to forage for food in the wild, purifying water, permaculture, blacksmithing, and much, much more.
If you would like to join in their next meeting, The Mena Ark, Community Based Disaster Preparedness Group, meets the third Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at the Mena Assembly of God Church on Sutherland Avenue. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.
Merwin Abbott said, “The discussions we have, these are the kinds of discussions that make us stronger as a community. We have to take the responsibility to lead.”