Emergency preparedness a community effort

Why prepare for a disaster?

I confess: it took me a while to embrace the idea that our household should have supplies and a plan in place in case of an emergency. I’m one who always snickers during those airplane safety announcements that, in case of emergency, lights on the floor will guide you to safely evacuate. Yeah, right! That’s pie-in-the-sky thinking.

But then, in 1989, friends in California gave me firsthand reports of the 6.9 quake, and a 6.0 again in 2014, but by then they were far more prepared and it was less emotionally traumatic.

So, our family reviewed the suggested supplies listed for earthquake survival and began to gather essential items. Still, we made jokes about it (e.g., I need to know what time of year it will hit, so I can plan my spare clothes accordingly; which will bring more comfort, hot chocolate or whiskey?).

I’ve always been unsettled to think our household might have water and food for a few days, but what about our neighbors? How would that play out?

Fast-forward to 2019, and I am far more persuaded that the big one may likely strike anytime now and probably in my lifetime. According to Seattle Times science writer, Sandi Doughton’s 2013 book, “The Full Rip 9.0: The Next Big Earthquake in the Pacific NW,” it could be significantly more disastrous.

While the city has been putting systems in place for disaster response for big infrastructure issues, they expect neighborhoods will need to be on their own to cope for quite some time — weeks, if not months.

How prepared are you in the event of a major disaster? Do your family members have grab-and-go basic supply bags, a plan for how to communicate and where to meet if you aren’t together? Do you know where and how to turn off your gas and have the tool to do that? Do you have a way to filter water, an adequate supply of medicines, source of power for lights and recharging/running devices? You can take advantage of the valuable resources on the Office of Emergency Management website — seattle.gov/emergency-management/prepare — and perhaps attend their series of disaster skills workshops to get your own household, family and neighbors prepared.

Thanks to earlier planning a few years back, the Madison Park neighborhood has a basic HUB communications system set up at the tennis courts. It is not set up to provide/distribute supplies. For neighbor-to-neighbor assistance and emergency response we need to form ideally two-block neighbor SNAP groups (Seattle Neighbors Actively Prepare). The City of Seattle has suggestions and resources to learn more and get started here.

To start this process, the Madison Park Community Council is holding a community event at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 18 at the Parkshore Senior Living Community, 1630 43rd Ave. E. Come hear Sandi Doughton’s presentation and learn how to assess needs and organize resources and responses with your immediate two-block neighbors. For questions about this event, contact madparkhub@gmail.com.

We hope you will make every effort to attend this meeting or send someone from your block to represent you. This is a great way to learn more about and get connected to our wider neighborhood, resources, needs and next steps. To stay abreast with our neighborhood updates on our emergency preparation work, look for follow-up information in the Madison Park Times and connect with and post on the Madison Park Nextdoor Emergency Group page.

Let’s connect and stay connected.