Special Report: Five Minute Warning

Are you prepared for a disaster? Many of you were chased from your homes by the floods of 1994 and 1998.

We all know how devastating tornadoes can be, but there are other threats. A nuclear disaster isn't likely, but Albany is about 60 miles from Plant Farley in Alabama.

And every day toxic chemicals are shipped through our communities on roads and rails.

How would you react if you had to evacuate your home immediately?

It's a calm night for Blake and Kati at the Cook house; as calm as it can be with a 3-month-old and a 3-year-old. As mom Kati feeds little Van, dad Blake checks the mail, and starts planning for tomorrow.

But their tranquil routine is about to be interrupted. They agreed to let our cameras in their house but they didn't know why, until now.

We announce to the Cook family: "There's been an evacuation ordered for your neighborhood. You have five minutes to leave the neighborhood, and that five minutes starts now."

Blake quickly starts packing the biggest suitcase he can find, while Kati works on stuff for the kids.

They're considering diapers, contact solution, toiletries and underwear.

They're down to three minutes as they try to do a checklist.

The time races by, until the five minutes are up, but they actually got a packed suitcase and both kids in the car within five minutes."

"I don't know if we have any idea what's in the suitcase," Blake said.

To see how well the Cooks did, we brought in an expert on disaster preparedness.

"It's absolutely the most important thing your family can think about," said Flint River Red Cross Director Lara Gill, who was impressed by some things.

"I grabbed my filings that I have, like both kids birth certificates and social security cards and stuff," Kati said.

"Excellent, so you had your family papers all in one spot," Gill said.

Grabbing toys and diapers was also a smart move. "You got the baby stuff. That was obviously in your situation, the top thing," Gill said.

The top thing wasn't the baby stuff-- it was the baby. "I kept saying don't forget the baby, don't forget the baby," Kati said.

But they did forget some essentials, like water, cell phone, charger...

"You have a dog? Where's the dog," asked Lara.

The Red Cross recommends you pack an emergency box. The essentials be in one location that you can go and find in a hurry and get out the door with.

It should include things like food and water,  flashlight, a blanket, a radio, and medicine. "You may never need it, but if you did need it, it's just such a great feeling to know it's there," Gill said.

Kati's family was hit by the Flood of 1994. "It destroyed the whole house, and we had to rebuild, and we lived in FEMA trailers in the backyard."

That made the Cooks more aware of disaster threats, but it didn't necessarily make them more prepared.

But they're ready to make some changes. "I think Kati and I will be more prepared if this were to happen and hopefully we'll actually take some steps to be more prepared," said Blake.

Lessons learned from a Five Minute Warning.

The Red Cross and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency have comprehensive websites that can help you put together an emergency kit and prepare for all sorts of disasters.

Red Cross director Lara Gill and Dougherty Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Vaught that have some good tips for you as well.

Copyright 2012 WALB.  All rights reserved.