FAIRMONT - Having grown up near the Fargo/Moorhead area, Erin Busta is familiar with natural disasters.
"I remember when I was 7, and seeing Grand Forks flooded and on fire on the national news," she said. "It really had an impact on me."
But it wasn't until Busta was in college that she decided to make a career out of disasters.
Erin Busta is the new county emergency manager in Martin County.
"I have a degree in emergency management from NDSU," Busta said. "It's a fairly new program; they've only had it since 2007 or 2008. But it's one of the top programs in the nation. A lot of the professors in the program have worked with FEMA."
Busta had been majoring in anthropology, with a history minor, but took a class involving disasters and the culture around them. She was hooked.
"The class wasn't just about people directly affected by disasters, but the media and society," she said. "It really sparked my interest ... It was something that I enjoyed and I enjoy working with and helping people."
After earning her degree in emergency management in December, Busta applied for and recently was hired as Martin County's emergency manager.
"My main job ... is if something should happen, we would know immediately what to do," she said. "Being up on everything and anything that could affect us, we need to know right away who to contact. It involves a lot of planning for initial response that will lead to recovering smoothly and efficiently."
One of her goals is to keep the public in the know and get them involved.
"There are some people who have the 'Not in My Back Yard,' syndrome," she said. "Even if something has never happened or not happened for a long time, we still need to be prepared. Individual preparation saves lives, along with time and money, and will make things more smooth into recovery. If individuals can prepare for themselves, it helps us be able to focus on getting the community as a whole back together again."
Expect to see Busta on social media and in the schools, taking on things such as next week's Severe Weather Awareness Week.
"I'm really looking forward to working with the kids," she says. "When you get them involved, they really get into it, and when Johnny comes home and tells his parents, 'We need an emergency plan,' then it's more likely the whole family will get involved."