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story.lead_photo.caption Yuzzeff Henderson, a Community Education and Outreach specialist from FEMA's Hazard Mitigation response team, will be in Jefferson City at Lowe's and Menard's to offer assistance, information and advice on how to recover from and prepare for future disasters. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

As Mid-Missouri residents continue to rebuild following the May 22 tornado and recent flooding, Federal Emergency Management Agency mitigation specialists are in Jefferson City through Tuesday to provide tips on how to prepare for or reduce damages during future disasters.

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The FEMA specialists can provide information from what to put in a prepared emergency to-go bag, how to build a safe room or what type of insurance residents should have.

The specialists' goal is to create awareness and preparedness for survivors, as well as encourage people to have a plan and prevent loss of life and property, said FEMA spokesperson Crystal Payton and FEMA hazard mitigation specialist Yuzzeff Henderson.

"People were not prepared. They don't have an actual contingency plan, they don't know what to do, they don't have a clue," he said. "If you're prepared, it's going to be less harsh on you. If you're not prepared, it's going to be very overwhelming, which is what is happening as of right now."

The FEMA mitigation specialists will be in Jefferson City at Lowe's Home Improvement, 3441 Missouri Blvd., and Menard's, 810 Stonecreek Drive, the following days and times:

Today — 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Saturday — 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

Sunday — 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Tuesday — 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Payton's top recommendation is to analyze the risks of where you live and to start mitigating those risks, such as getting flood insurance or creating safe rooms.

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Residents who want to prepare for future tornadoes could construct safe rooms, identify rooms in their homes that are away from windows, or go to places with basements.

Residents experiencing massive flooding should grab a prepared emergency to-go bag and evacuate, Henderson advised.

"You don't want to be stuck in a room with flooding," he said, pointing at a safe room model display on the table. "I've had this question before: Can I stay in my safe room if there is a flood? Please don't. The door is actually reinforced and there are no windows, so God forbid water actually comes in and rises. So evacuate. We're trying to keep people alive."

An emergency to-go bag could include medications, important documents, insurance policies, cash, bottled water and canned food.

President Donald Trump signed a federal major disaster declaration for Missouri on July 9 in response to severe storms, flooding and tornadoes between April 29 and July 5. This made the state eligible for FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

Disaster victims whose homes and/or businesses were affected by storms, tornadoes and flooding between April 29 and July 5 can register for federal assistance by calling 800-621-3362 or visiting DisasterAssistance.gov.

The deadline to register for federal disaster assistance is Sept. 9.

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