The New Yorker earthquake article The Big One prompted a spate of fall workshops across the region to get neighbors and businesses ready for all sorts of disaster that will interrupt their way of life. One such session took place on a Saturday afternoon in mid-November at Archbishop Howard School at St. Rose in the Rose City Park Neighborhood.
Multnomah County Office of Emergency Management’s Stevie Bullock engaged just over two dozen residents and school staff convened in the cafeteria in the three-way formula for surviving a disaster: stay informed, have a plan and pack your kit. Disasters described included fire, flood, freezing weather, earthquake, toxic spills and, lately, shootings. In many of these emergencies power goes out, Utility (water, electric and gas) service is interrupted, and citizens may have to go for an extended time without routine comforts of life.
Bullock prepped the people in the “Duck, Cover and Hold” method of surviving an earthquake by scrambling under a table and holding onto one of its legs until the shaking stops. Then, when the earth calms down, calmly assessing the situation and making one’s way out of the building by carefully avoiding hazards like broken glass.
“This will be especially dangerous, if you are downtown when the quake hits,” Bullock warned, “as there may be broken glass as deep as three feet from the many windows…sometimes staying inside is the safer thing to do.” Being prepared for long power outages is important.
Bullock showed his own emergency kit, “I have three of these: one at home, one in my car and one at work. This way, no matter where I am, I’m covered.” His wife and two children each have their own kits, too.
In the kit should be water, canned foods, extra clothing, a small first-aid kit, can openers, empty medicine bottles and important documents. The last items, Bullock keeps on a thumb drive attached to his keys.
Bullock encouraged everyone to have an evacuation plan from their homes and businesses. The “evac” plan should include more than just “…going outside.” Everyone should know where they will go to meet up. Schools have a re-unification plan, a place known only to police, parents and the school where parent can re-unite with children after a disaster event at school.
Bullock’s presentation was complemented by instructions from Kathleen Elliott of the Red Cross and a contractor who deals in reinforcing structures to be earthquake-proof. Participants leaving the two and ½-hour session expressed appreciation and promised to spread the word to their neighbors. “After all,” as Bullock informed everyone, “…with a national average of one firefighter for every 280 residents, your neighbors will be your first responders if you are in trouble, and you will be theirs!”