Each time the news reports another earthquake on the West Coast, we’re reminded it’s just a matter of when, not if, Seattle will get the predicted “Big One.” Our city’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has been steadily getting their systems in order to respond to the major issues Seattle is likely to face—fires, collapsed bridges, roads, utilities and communication systems. Hospitals, too, are setting up their command central response systems. Perhaps that feels reassuring, but the truth is, when a devastating earthquake happens, neighborhoods won’t receive any immediate aid response from city agencies. They will be focused on other big infrastructure concerns, triaging priorities for firetrucks, ambulances, first responders and utility crews.
In fact, Seattle’s Emergency Management plan calls for neighborhoods to develop our own plans to support and sustain ourselves and each other during the immediate days, perhaps weeks, following a major disaster. This plan, Seattle Neighbors Actively Prepare (SNAP) is described on their website with a great deal of information to digest. In recent months Madison Park has seen a resurgence in activity to educate and organize our neighborhood around our Emergency Communications HUB by the tennis courts in the park. Some SNAP groups are forming, typically involving two blocks of facing houses as neighborhood clusters, and volunteers have been organizing education events and bringing speakers to help us understand what to expect, and how to prepare and respond.
An example of how a SNAP group forms and gets organized was described in the July issue of the Madison Park Times. One two-block group, Hillside/39th Avenue East SNAP, organized a summer potluck at the annual Night Out block party where 53 people from 40 homes showed up to meet each other and share a meal. By all accounts it was an engaged, successful event where people finally met for the first time or reconnected after years of living in the same block cluster. SNAP organizers took that opportunity to share a simplified one-page “to-do list” for earthquake preparation. The concept of a SNAP group centers around three basic ideas:
• Make a plan with your family and household for sheltering in place for two weeks post-quake, and then methodically work through the tasks involved. Periodically review and practice parts of this plan, refurbishing essential supplies as needed.
• With neighbors in a two-block cluster, collect contact information, gather information about each household, such as health and mobility needs, relevant post-quake skills and tools (i.e., first aid, search and rescue), and organize yourselves into work teams to help each other get prepared.
• Keep educating yourselves, acquiring skills such as basic first aid, utility control, search and rescue. The OEM website continually updates information on disaster skills workshops offered around the city. They have volunteers to help workplaces and schools get organized and acquire skills as well.
Our revived Madison Park Emergency Preparedness Committee always welcomes additional volunteers to help plan our events, improve our HUB Communications Drills, and support the formation of more SNAP groups. You can keep track of our work through the Madison Park Nextdoor website, the Madison Park Times and their website, and the three electronic screens in the village. We’re looking for someone to help set up a specific Facebook page and manage the MPCC website and Facebook page. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Madison Park Neighborhood Emergency Preparation events:
• Education table, 5:30-8 p.m. Sept 13 — Visit our education table at the Madison Park Art Walk (at the stone bench corner between Bert’s Red Apple and BOA) where you will find handouts and a sign-up sheet to receive ongoing information via email.
• SNAP Training, 7-8:30 p.m. Sept 30 — Parkshore Senior Living, Lakeview Community Room. Learn how to work with your neighbors in a two-block cluster, collect contact information, gather information about each household, such as health and mobility needs, relevant post-quake skills and tools (i.e., first aid, search and rescue), and organize yourselves into work teams to help each other get prepared.
• Stop the Bleed skills training, 7-8:30 p.m. Oct. 7 — Parkshore Senior Living, Lakeview Community Room. Because bleeding is the leading cause of preventable death after injury, learn how to “Stop the Bleed” and maybe save a life! Hands-on training with retired nurses Ann Forrest and Sarah Armstrong. Pre-register for this free class.
• No internet access? Call 206-466-2409 or stop in at Realogics Sotheby’s Realty, 4031 E. Madison St., and Alea will register you!