By Nancy Varekamp | CNews Editor
Portland is overdue for an earthquake of devastating magnitude, thanks to the proximity to a fault and delicate soil that may damage building footings.
That’s what 35 Concordians learned last month at the neighborhood association annual membership meeting. They heard from Amy Gard, leader of the Concordia-Vernon-Woodlawn Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET), and from Justin Ross, Multnomah County Office of Emergency Management community capacity specialist.
Both stressed that planning for disasters – resiliency – makes recovery easier. The county focuses on four resiliency factors:
- Situational awareness: Take stock of where you are at all times. Know that a doorway is no longer the preferred safe zone in an earthquake; instead, drop under the cover of furniture.
- Plans: “Plans don’t cost any money and are one of the most important resiliency factors,” the county specialist pointed out. Know how to reach and reunite with your loved ones.
- Access to supplies: It may take two weeks for outside help arrive, so plan for it. “You don’t need to hoard,” he advised. You can grow vegetables instead of lawn, share supplies with neighbors, stock water purification kits, and more. Medications may be the most difficult to store since insurance companies balk at stocking up.
- Community connections: Be aware that 90 percent of all rescues are performed by neighbors. “Talk to your neighbors who aren’t here tonight,” he advised. “Those are the people who are going to be responding to the disaster immediately.”
Amy focused on that community connections factor. The local NET has 20 to 30 active members currently. Each completed 30 hours of training and they continue to train and drill on fire suppression; search and rescue; triage; and emergency medical treatment. (See details in the August CNews at ConcordiaPDX.org/NET.)
Since the NET encompasses 2.4 square miles and 17,000 residents, its volunteers will be spread thin during a disaster. So Amy advises neighbors to be prepared to help each other.
It requires just 2 to 3 hours of training to volunteer for basic earthquake emergency communication nodes (BEECNs), she added. Those volunteers will be stationed at the Killingsworth fire station, Alberta Park and Rigler Elementary School after disasters – to gather information and help the injured.
“It’s low time commitment, but provides an opportunity for involvement in the neighborhood emergency plan,” she said.
Since the NET must purchase its own supplies and equipment, donations are always welcome, Amy said. One easy way to donate is by registering for the Fred Meyer Community Rewards program.