Earl Johnson and his neighbors were more serious about emergency preparedness after they experienced a power outage and no running water at the same time a few years ago, he said.
"We had elderly people who needed water," he said. "We went to the community association first but they weren't open yet, then we went to a church."
That experience inspired Johnson, now on the Office of Sustainability's Commission on Sustainability, and he taught Baltimore residents how to find and use their resources at a free event hosted by the Baltimore Office of Sustainability Tuesday.
The event titled "Make a Plan. Build a Kit. Help Each Other." gave Baltimore residents the tools to make a preparedness plan for themselves and a kit that included a battery/crank powered radio, flashlight, batteries, first aid kit, manual can opener, hand wipes, filter mask and sanitary bags.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake attended and made a kit after speaking briefly about the severe emergency situations over the last five years, such as the Derecho storm in 2012, "snowmageddon" in 2010 and Hurricane Sandy.
"This only works when there are strong, committed people," Rawlings-Blake said. "The more that we can prepare, the more that we can focus the city's resources in areas of real need."
The most important part is knowing your neighbors and recognizing their needs in emergencies, such as single mothers or the elderly needing more help, and also knowing their abilities, such as who knows CPR, or who can drive, Cindy Parker, with the Commission on Sustainability, said.
"Hopefully the activity of sort of thinking this through will help [residents] make a mental note," she said. "Communities who don't work together don't fare well."
Residents were able to search their address on updated flood maps for the city, and see if they're at risk for flood. In addition, there were stations for the American Red Cross, FEMA, the Department of Public Works, a free tree giveaway and more.
"It's just really good for Baltimore to be one step ahead of everyone," Johnson said.