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      How prepared is the U.P. for natural disasters?

      The recent tornado in Ontonagon ripped through the town in a matter of moments. Although no one was injured and no homes were lost, damage was still extensive.

      According to officials, emergency response was fast because it is outlined in detailed plans.

      "I actually feel our preparedness since 9/11 has increased greatly, said Bonny Cotter, emergency manager at Baraga County Memorial Hospital, "and that is a result of training; it's a result of exercises.

      And this is training that occurs on a regular basis for hospital staff in the U.P.

      Meetings are held monthly at Portage Health Hospital in Hancock where emergency plans are discussed.

      "We train physicians, we train nurses, we train EMS, first responders, Cotter said. Everybody has an emergency operations plan in the event of a disaster. It can be any kind of event--natural, man-made, terrorist event."

      But who are the responders? In Keweenaw County, most are volunteers.

      "I rely on 450 volunteer firemen to help me out, to help out a situation and be able to respond to situations above and beyond fire," said Jack Dueweke, Keweenaw County emergency manager.

      Which is why in case of a disaster, one must always be prepared.

      "We all need to be responsible for ourselves, Dueweke said. We have to make sure we have water."

      Still, plans aren't flawless. As Cotter says, practice makes perfect.

      "Every event that happens and even every exercise that you do you learn a lot, and that is one of the biggest reasons that we exercise and we train," Cotter said.