Remarks by Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge Announcing the Emergency Preparedness Guide for Homeowners

WASHINGTON — Thank you, Tom, for that kind introduction. During the last three years, we have spoken often about protecting our nation…protecting our states…protecting our cities. Today we’d like to reiterate the importance of protecting our homes. Our mission to prevent, prepare for, and respond to terrorist attacks and other emergencies is a national mission that requires every citizen’s effort. Therefore, the protection of our country must start with every home. We cannot protect the homeland if we do not protect the hometown; we cannot protect the hometown until we protect the home.

Some citizens might think: we’ll leave preparedness and protection to the professionals – first responders, law enforcement, governors and mayors…much the way a person might leave the plumbing, painting or electrical jobs in their homes to professionals. Well, what we have been saying, and will continue to say, is that you cannot hire out the protection of your home and family; it is a personal hands-on job. So we are pleased to join the Homeownership Alliance today to announce the Emergency Preparedness Guide for homeowners. This guide will give homeowners the information they need to prepare for any emergency and protect their most cherished assets: their homes…and their families.

During the past 3 years, people have asked us, “How can I help? What can I do?” Well there are many things citizens can do. Our Ready Campaign, for example, educates and encourages citizens to do three key things to prepare for an emergency: one, get an emergency supply kit; two, make a family emergency plan; and three, be informed. Together with the Homeownership Alliance, we will work to further spread this important message by providing the Emergency Preparedness Guide to new homeowners across the nation.

A perfect example of the need to be ready is what happened up in Massachusetts this weekend. Some areas received 38 inches of snow. Many areas lost power. As of yesterday, 500 homes still had no power. People are still stuck inside or outside of their homes. Those who prepared, however – those who had supplies such as food, water, flashlights, warm clothes, a generator – weathered that storm. Those who did not probably had a tougher time.

We know all too well that blizzards and hurricanes, as well as terrorist attacks, can occur anytime. So at all times, the key is…be prepared. Many thanks to the Homeownership Alliance for their partnership and assistance in developing the Emergency Preparedness Guide. It’s a wonderful tool to help citizens determine how to prepare for different threats, whether wrought by disaster or by design. Through this effort, the Homeownership Alliance has offered a great example of how government and private sector partners can work together toward a common goal: to protect our citizens and our homeland.

Finally, let me extend my thanks to Habitat for Humanity and the other organizations that helped build this home. The same hands that came together here to build a solid foundation for one family’s future happiness will be the same hands that come together to protect an even sturdier structure than the homes you build: freedom.

Held together by neither nails nor wood nor steel, but by the commitment, courage and collaborative spirit shared by all of you, freedom’s foundation will unify and strengthen us and our future generations for years to come.

Thank you.