Americans have mobilized and headed south to aid those hurt by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma as others begin planning to leave later for long-term recovery and rebuilding. Amid this heightened awareness of disasters, officials say individuals and families can do a lot to make their own communities more resilient when trouble comes.

Locally, several programs can help individuals get started in their own preparedness efforts and in helping others. Two of them in Independence have public events in the coming weeks.

“We emphasize community resilience,” said Dante Gliniecki, the emergency preparedness manager for the city of Independence.

This is National Emergency Preparedness Month, and Gliniecki has two main thoughts.

First, be ready.

“Have a kit ready, have a plan, and stay in touch … with information coming from authorities,” he said. That means having a “go kit” stored somewhere handy at home with a variety of basic items to get your family through a few days of an emergency.

Second, think about connecting with groups such the Red Cross, a church or local programs such as Community Emergency Response Training to be ready to help others when the need arises.

“It’s one of the best things to do,” Gliniecki said.

The city offers a free class on the third Saturday of the month on topics from weather to first aid. This Saturday’s topic is how to make a go kit. It’s from 10 a.m. to noon at the Fire Station No. 1, 950 N. Spring St. (the corner of Spring and U.S. 24). It’s free.

You might not have to go somewhere with your go kit, but it gives you options even if you end up using it while riding out an emergency in your home, Gliniecki said, so make it portable, perhaps packing items into a backpack or duffel bag. You’ll want flashlights and batteries, a radio, nonperishable food, a first aid kit, medications, basic tools, important phone numbers and documents, a good coat and other items. Don’t forget water – a gallon per person per day – whether that goes in the kit itself or is stored nearby. Also: Think about your pets’ needs. Have stuff in the car too.

More detailed kit lists are abundant online. Try redcross.org, preparemetrokc.org and extension.missouri.edu.

Looking at preparedness more broadly, the city has for years had a Community Emergency Response Training program, training volunteers for such jobs as helping run emergency shelters, assisting with search-and-rescue work, serving food and assessing damage. The Independence team was sent to Oak Grove on the night of the tornado in March.

“CERT is our jack-of-all-trades,” Gliniecki said.

Many in the program help run the joint Independence/Jackson County emergency operations center, where officials monitor and respond to crises.

“We need lots of volunteers,” Gliniecki said.

CERT training is free, and it’s coming up this month, a Friday and a Saturday two weekends in a row. It’s at 6 p.m. Sept. 22 and 29, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 23 and 30. Call 816-325-7133 for more information or to sign up.

Gliniecki stressed the vital role volunteers play in disaster response. Government agencies generally can’t go on private property, so private groups – the Red Cross, church-based groups – fill a large gap and figure to be sending people to Texas, Florida and elsewhere for months to come.

“Almost every mainline religious organization has a disaster organization,” Gliniecki said.