Richland Co. - Risky Place to Live?

Part 1 in a Series from Your Richland Co. Red Cross

Natural or man-made hazards exist throughout our nation, and Richland County is no exception. The four highest risks in our area are Flooding, Summer Storms/Tornadoes, Winter Storms and Hazardous Material Spills, According to Richland County’s brand new Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan

(viewable at

Richland_County_MHMP_Adopted.pdf). In recent history, Richland County has averaged 2 flood events, 4 hazardous material releases, 8 summer storms and 9 winter storms per year. The odds of being involved in a local disaster may not be high, but they are real. Fortunately, we can each take simple steps to prepare.

This summer presents a great opportunity to assess and address our community’s fitness for emergencies on a personal level. Richland County American Red Cross and Disaster & Emergency Services are teaming up to bring you the “Dare to Prepare at the Fair” challenge. Watch for articles each week that will help educate and equip you to ensure your family or business is fit for the future.

Just because a major event hasn’t happened often or recently, doesn’t mean it can’t happen at anytime. Ask the residents of Watford City who witnessed the EF2 tornado this spring. The town of Casselton, ND, also experienced a wake-up call in December as most of the population was evacuated due to toxic smoke from a nearby rail car explosion. This is an increasing type of threat in the Bakken. Over 70% of each day’s million barrels of oil travels by rail, and this is expected to increase to up to 90% by the end of the year. Most of our county’s residents and all key facilities are located within half a mile of highways and railroads, posing a huge threat in case of hazmat transportation gone awry.

So what can be done to prepare? Be informed. Make a Plan. Get a kit. These are the three steps featured in the Dare to Prepare campaign. The first step of education is critical, agrees Gene Jackson, one of 11 victims of this spring’s flooding in East Fairview. He and his crew had never seen flooding before and, although warned, he wishes they had understood more of the history of the location and how quickly the river could spread. They simply did not anticipate the speed and magnitude of the water - it was up to the countertops in their trailer and roads were impassable in just a matter of minutes.

While disasters can’t always be prevented, much of the resulting devastation can. Seek out stories of other survivors, check out the Dare to Prepare display at the Sidney Public Library, or visit sites like and Watch for upcoming articles leading up to the fair that will focus on the next two steps, and discover how you can win prizes as you Dare to Prepare.

Meanwhile, don’t be afraid of considering the risks - it can be beneficial. In an interview with KXNews Ainslea Oliphant, fifteen-year-old victim of the Memorial Day tornado in Watford City, shared her ultimate preparedness lesson: “Don’t take your life for granted. You just got to live it like it’s your last. In literally a matter of seconds it could be gone. You gotta tell your family you love them.”


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