Sunday, November 6, 2011

Are You Community Ready?

Being Community Ready,
by Greg Ewert

Are You Community Ready?

In today's economy, thinking about emergency preparedness is low on just about everyone's list, of priorities. Being prepared isn't about the destructive power of an earthquake, flood, tsunami, or tornado; alone. Its about you and your neighbors being prepared to face the unexpected; things that will affect everyone on your street, building, or cul-de-sac.

This is especially true if you live in a community of people on fixed incomes. One persons hardship can quickly become a community event... one can quickly become two, three, four... and so on. Networking and Sharing are the keys to peace of mind. Sadly, some actually think that their landlord will come to their rescue. They are so institutionalized, and dependent on the housing authority and social services, that they have lost the ability to think and/or plan on their own. Their landlords are under no obligation to help them in any way, and their landlords have no plans to assist them in organizing for a disaster or helping them afterwards; I asked them.

When preparing, it is a lot easier to not think about a particular natural disaster. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard these words; "Oh sure, I remember Y2K and its all a bunch of hysteria and propaganda". But we have seen the devastation of the mighty hurricanes and tsunamis over the last decade. We have witnessed, for ourselves, the heartache and even death, brought on by those who were not prepared, and thought Uncle Sam or Big Brother was coming to the rescue.

Before Hurricane Katrina, we were told that the mighty FEMA or our military would come to our rescue. We seen it in movies, all over the Internet, and in the news. After Hurricane Katrina, we were told that you need to learn to survive on your own for up to three days. But even that is a stretch. In most cases, federal emergency responders will not arrive for weeks. In places like the Pacific Northwest, Oregon and Washington, you can't go anywhere without crossing a bridge. And a moderate earthquake will make 90% of the bridges in the Pacific Northwest impassible.

In researching this subject, I asked a lot of people in low income housing, how they were prepared in case of a natural disaster in Oregon. All but a few said they were going to go to a relatives. So I asked them, how many bridges do you cross getting to your relatives? almost everyone had to cross at least three bridges to get to where they think they will be safe. Odds are, those bridges will not be there after an earthquake.

Some of the people I talk to are pretty well-to-do. What will you do after a big earthquake and how have you prepared. I was amazed at how many have property up in the mountains that were fully stocked and ready for an emergency. Yet they had done little to nothing to prepare to stay where they are. I asked him the same question, how many bridges will you have to cross to get up to your cabin, and how many big trees are along the road? Not a single one of them had thought of that.

When I questioned local emergency responders about what they were going to be doing after a big earthquake, every single one of them responded with... "I already have a place picked out, where I will take me, my family and my gun, until the chaos is over".

When planning and preparing, it is best to do so as a community, a neighborhood. You will be the first responder in your community, and your community will be your first responder. As we look at the natural disasters of the last few years, here in the United States; we always hear, my neighbor had to dig me out of my house, apartment, or grocery store. It was always, hours, days, or even a week before emergency responders arrived.

Now you consider the amount of damage that will be done over three states, Oregon Washington and California, the responders will be spread really thin. The smaller communities may never see, FEMA or the military come rolling into their community. These people will be told where to go to find emergency help, it's not going to come to them; or you.

Get to know your neighbors, and have a potluck.  Get to know each others skills, needs, what you have as a community.