2011 has been an important reminder to all of us that disasters strike any time, any place. Regionally, we have felt those devastating effects first hand.
As we recovery from 2011's disasters we prepare to continually protect our communities for future emergency events in 2012. Our goal is to empower all residents to become their own emergency manager through simple steps such as getting a kit, making a plan and staying informed.
Last summer our Region experienced disasters of significant proportion. The severe impact of Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and the Mid-Atlantic earthquake thrust our recovery efforts into motion in record volume.
However, each disaster was met head on by local, state, and federal partners ready to work together with the public's safety and best interest in our minds and hearts.
Ultimately this year proved that we all are vulnerable to these hazards, no matter where we live. And preparing for them at the last minute can often be too little, too late.
We all want the peace of mind of knowing that our families, our homes and our businesses are safe and protected from threats of any kind. While we can't control where or when the next flood, tornado, earthquake or other disaster will hit, we can take responsibility for preparing our loved ones and properties for emergencies.
So as we reflect on the past year and get ready for a new beginning, we're encouraging all Americans to do their part to be prepared by Resolving to be Ready for disasters in 2012. It's a New Year's resolution that is easy to keep - and could save your life.
First, make a family emergency communications plan with your family. How would you contact your child if their school was locked down? Where would you meet your family if cell phone towers were down? Simply take a moment to sit down with your family and come up with a communication plan to deal with these kinds of scenarios.
Second, build an emergency kit for your home, office, and car. What if the roads were so bad, that you had to stay in your office overnight? It would be helpful to have spare food, clothes, and medications at your office desk. In the New Year, treat yourself to a shopping trip dedicated to building a few emergency kits. You can find a list of suggested items on Ready.gov.
Third, stay informed of risks in your community. In this region in particular, we experience events such as floods, hurricanes, tropical storms and snow.
Additionally, recognizing that it takes the whole community to implement all- inclusive emergency management, kind acts such as checking in on friends and neighbors that might need extra assistance during disasters could make a world of difference.
So, if you haven't yet taken the steps to keep you and your family prepared for emergencies, please take some time this holiday season and resolve to be ready. Take the pledge or learn more information at www.ready.gov/pledge  and encourage the rest of your community to join.
Mary Ann Tierney
FEMA Region III
[MaryAnn Tierney is the Regional Administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Region III office, which covers Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.]