The big one is coming. Have no doubt about it, in the reasonably near future, perhaps within our lifetimes, a cataclysmic earthquake will strike Portland. And when the Cascadia quake hits, many buildings will crumble; water, sewer and gas mains will rupture; travel and communication will be difficult, if not impossible; and our first responders will be overwhelmed.
But before you throw your hands up and succumb to fatalism, there is some good news: a few surprisingly simple preparations can tremendously improve your chances of survival. You may not be able to rely on government when disaster strikes, but you won’t have to go it alone. As it turns out, other than our own resources and knowledge, our neighbors may be our biggest asset.
After being saved from Katrina by a neighbor urging him to evacuate, political scientist Daniel Aldrich studied a number of disasters and concluded that “while official help is useful…it is the personal ties among members of a community that determine survival during a disaster, and recovery in its aftermath.” (The Key to Disaster Survival? Friends and Neighbors)
Neighbors will be first on the scene to check on each other, after ensuring that their own families are OK. Neighbors may be able to offer shelter if needed. Neighbors may know first aid or have generators, chain saws, or other useful skills and equipment. And with power out, neighborhood potlucks using camp stoves are a great way to deal with refrigerator and freezer contents.
For our community to come through a major disaster and recover well, we will need prepared households and neighborhood connections. So why not dedicate this spring to doing something good for yourself and your neighborhood, and get prepared? Plus, by getting more connected, we make our neighborhoods not only more resilient but more enjoyable to live in.
No more excuses – free workshops being offered this April and May will give you all the information and tools you need to get started. Take action and plan to attend one of the workshops below. And while it’s on your mind, go outside and invite one of your neighbors to go with you.
Get Ready for Anything: Before and After a Disaster
Workshop #1: Make a Plan & Build a Kit
Learn how to create a family emergency plan and assemble an affordable emergency kit, including simple solutions for emergency sanitation.
- Saturday April 5, 2-5 pm, Brentwood-Darlington Community Center, 7211 SE 62nd Ave. *
- Sunday April 13, 2-5 pm, Moreland Presbyterian Church, 1814 SE Bybee Blvd.
- Saturday May 3, 2-5 pm, Trinity United Methodist Church, 3915 SE Steele St.
Workshop #2: Help Friends & Neighbors Get Prepared
Learn how to interest your neighbors in getting prepared and how to organize to help each other after a major disaster.
- Wednesday April 30, 6:30-9 pm, Service Employees International Union, 6401 SE Foster Rd.
- Tuesday May 13, 6:30-9 pm, SMILE Station, 8210 SE 13th Ave.*
- Tuesday May 20, 6:30-9 pm, Reedwood Friends Church, 2901 SE Steele St.
Workshop #3: Secure Your Home Against Disaster
Learn about non-structural measures anyone can take to protect against earthquakes and about seismic upgrades for homeowners.
- Saturday May 31, 2-4:30 pm, Trinity United Methodist Church, 3915 SE Steele St.
Workshops are sponsored by local Neighborhood Emergency Teams; Southeast Uplift; www.PREPOregon.org; and the Brentwood-Darlington, Mt. Scott-Arleta, Sellwood-Moreland and Woodstock Neighborhood Associations.
*Organizers suggest that interested people who live outside of the South of Powell neighborhoods attend any of the workshops except the April 5 and May 13 sessions, as the other locations can accommodate plenty of extra people.