Dozens of cities around the nation are hoping to learn some important emergency response lessons from one local community. A disaster preparedness conference has just wrapped up in Valdosta.
They learned the importance of communication. They also learned that communication is not only important between law enforcement and rescue crews, but with local food banks as well.
America's Second Harvest Food Bank sponsored this conference in Valdosta to better teach emergency responders about how valuable cooperation is during an emergency.
"There are five locations around the country that they are doing these in, Valdosta, GA being one, that really speaks highly of our Emergency Responders. What they came here for is to be able to find out what we do in our community, and how we work together and how they can take it back to their community and maybe get their agencies and organizations working better together," says JD Yeager of the Lowndes County
"We've got people here from Maryland, from Florida, from Illinois and Alabama. They are learning from these local emergency specialist ideas and suggestions they can take back to their community," says Craig Nemitz, event organizer.
"This has forced us to come together and learn about cooperation and try and make those changes now, before we're challenged in the future," adds Hawley Botchford, a Fort Myers resident.
Emergency response and food bank experts say in these uncertain times, these kinds of improvements are essential to the health and safety of all Americans.
"Now we're really finding there are a lot of gaps in the system, it isn't going to take much to close those gaps, and really be ready."
This conference will now move on to Austin, Texas, and officials with America's Second Harvest Food Bank say they will use some of the lessons learned here in Valdosta and share them with other cities across the nation.
Why did one of the nation's largest food banks decide to start hosting these kinds of conferences? They say for the longest time, food banks have been the forgotten helper. Many response agencies need help feeding people in a disaster, and they want to help on a larger scale.