AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- More than five hundred people are attending a two day conference at the Augusta Civic Center where they are gathering information and training to be better prepared in case a of a natural disaster or other catastrophe strikes Maine.
First responders, emergency management officials, and even school teachers, make up the diverse crowd of attendees at the 4th annual Maine Partners in Emergency Preparedness Conference.
"We can never be fully prepared," stated Robert McAleer, the acting Commissioner of the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management. "That is like someone on a sports team that says I don't need to practice, that is arrogance that gets people hurt."
"You never know what it is going to be," he added, "so that requires us to look at all those different categories of threat out there and then try and figure out how could that threat have the most negative impact on us and how do we mitigate that threat going into it so that our recovery phase, our response phase is made easier."
One of the keynote speakers at the event came from Vermont to share his experiences and lessons learned from Hurricane Irene, which dumped nearly a foot of water on parts of the state in late August of last year.
"The aftermath was catastrophic," said Peter Coffey, the Deputy Director of Operations and Logistics for the Vermont Emergency management Agency. "The southern part of the state, we had thirteen communities that were completely isolated cause there was not a road in to or out of those communities where we could get commodities in to them. We ended up delivering to them and some others by helicopter."
The storm caused roughly half a billion dollars in damage in the state and was responsible for six deaths.
Coffey says people need to prepare for their families and their communities to survive until help can arrive.
"All emergencies are local, and the mantra has been you are going to be on your own, plan to be on your own - whether you are a family, a community or a school - for 72 hours, cause we are not going to be able to get anything to you in that amount of time."
The Maine Emergency Management Agency has information and tips on their website to help people plan ahead and encourages people to have at least three days worth of water, food and medicine on hand to help them in the event of a disaster.