LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska officials unveiled a new effort Tuesday to ensure residents are prepared for and recover from emergencies.

An executive with the American Red Cross said the group hopes to have plans in place for 100 Nebraska communities by December 2018. It aims to reach all communities by 2020.

The group will work with communities to recruit volunteers, ensure shelters are available, host blood drives and develop long-term plans. Jill Orton, an American Red Cross executive, said volunteers play a crucial role in providing food, shelter and comfort to people struck by natural disasters.

Orton said the initiative will help communities tailor their own emergency plans.

“Individuals and communities must always be prepared,” she said.

Gov. Pete Ricketts said the recent flooding in Louisiana and the devastating 2014 tornadoes in Pilger and Beaver Crossing, Nebraska, serve as a reminder of the importance of having plans in place.

The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency relies heavily on volunteers to help towns recover, said Bryan Tuma, the agency’s assistant director. Pilger, for instance, had 2,200 “spontaneous volunteers” arrive to help after the tornado, he said.

“We can’t emphasize enough — individuals need to have plans, businesses need to plan, but we also need to plan for how we engage our volunteers when something happens,” Tuma said.