Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us

by Dave Robinson

Dave Robinson

Originally published February 18, 2013

Several earthquakes in the South Pacific this past week, including one initially rated at 8.0, prompted comments by the Portland news media of the necessity for disaster preparedness. One commentator noted that in the event of a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake, Portlanders and others in the Willamette Valley should prepare to survive on their own for at least three weeks. He went on to recommend that those living along the Oregon Coast should prepare for four weeks, or more, of disruption.

Experts believe if an earthquake strikes the northwest, depending, of course, on the location and intensity, all travel in to and out of the area could be cut off. Bridges quite likely will be damaged. Landslides could block roads due to liquefaction and downed trees and other debris will further contribute to the chaos. Electrical power distribution will be interrupted for a lengthy period and grocery supply networks will be at a standstill. The only channels for delivering supplies to the area will likely be by helicopter or by sea. Either mode of supply replenishment will take time to organize and deliver to our area. If the entire Northwest is involved, then the airlift would likely among the largest we’ve seen in recent history.

It is a safe bet telephone communication would be fractured and cellular phone technology would likely be undependable at best. Remember in the event of a disaster; use the texting function on your cell phone to communicate with your loved ones. The system will be overloaded with calls, and a text message takes up less “space” in the system. Your text is much more likely to get through than a phone call. If you don’t know how to send a text message, just ask any kid. They love to show off their technology skills to us “grown-ups”.

In the meantime, we are left to our own devices. We will be dependent on what we have set aside. We will need to rely on our skills, our stores and each other. Now is a good time to develop a network in your neighborhood. “Mapping your neighborhood” involves getting to know your neighbors and finding out who has skills. Who owns a backhoe, who knows how to run a chainsaw, and does anyone have medical training? Is there anyone in your neighborhood with special needs? Maybe an elderly person lives alone and depends on an electronic alerting system. They will need to be looked after in person. The list runs longer, but when neither police nor fire department can respond, having this information may save someone’s life. There are Mapping Your Neighborhood groups all over our area. It only takes one person to pull his neighborhood together and get started. If this interests you, contact Coos County Emergency Management and get information on Mapping Your Neighborhood.

Remember, the best time to prepare is before a disaster happens. That time is NOW! Send me your comments and questions at disasterprep.dave@gmail.com.

Note: Dave Robinson is Bandon's Postmaster and has worked for the postal service for 30 years. He has a background in law enforcement, served in the Air Force in Vietnam, worked nine years for the Coos County Sheriff's Department, and serves on the Myrtle Point School Board, where he lives.

additional columns by Dave Robinson