Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How do I know if I live in a flood zone?

There are a few ways to find out if you live in a flood zone or what the flood risk is at your location. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a great web site at www.floodsmart.gov where you can enter your address in the One-step flood risk profile on the left side of the page.

This will tell if your property is at low to severe risk of flooding. It will also give you an estimate of what flood insurance premiums may cost and a list of insurance agents in your area.
On www.floodsmart.gov you can also find information on flood insurance benefits, types of policies, questions to ask your insurance agent, questions to ask your real estate agent, and how to buy flood insurance.
If you already have a home-owner’s insurance agent, they should also be able to tell you the level of flood risk for your property. You could also contact your local City or County Emergency Manager or planning department.

After purchasing flood insurance there is a 30 waiting period for it to take effect so this is a very good time to take action.

Please send questions concerning disasters, emergencies and preparedness to jbailey@oem.state.or.us. I will be happy to answer them in the column.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Myth Number 3

My insurance policy will take care of everything.

SWAT teams of insurance agents aren't going to instantly rebuild your life like on TV. Insurance companies will be far more concerned about their own bottom line than yours. In fact, many insurance companies are rewriting policies to redefine some rather common terrorism or disaster related incidents as being excluded and not coverable. Check your policies closely!

AND - regular home owner's insurance does not cover flood damage. You must have nation flood insurance (NFIP). You can buy both the contents and the propery coverage from you home owner's insurance agent if your area is in a participating community. Check with your agent.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Statesman Journal OEM column June 24

June 24, 2009
It's important to be prepared.

All areas are vulnerable to any type of disaster.

The recent thunderstorms and tornado watch was another disaster preparedness wake-up call. Will we pay attention? Will we be ready to care for ourselves when the power goes out and the roads are closed?

It is sometimes difficult for people to understand the importance of being prepared for disasters even though we wouldn't think of living in a home without a smoke detector.
Here are four statements I hear regularly — did any of these come from you?

"If something happens, all I have to do is call 911" — during a major disaster, help is limited and can only get there so fast. Roads often are blocked.

"All I need is a 72-hour kit with a flashlight, some food and water and a radio" — 72 hours is the minimal amount of time you need to be self-sufficient. Two or more weeks would be better.

"Good preparedness is too expensive and too complicated" — If you can't afford to purchase a ready-made kit, purchase one or two items each week with your regular grocery shopping.

"Nothing really bad ever happens here" — You may have noticed that in the past few years, Oregon has had more and more disasters. No area is immune. Consider the possibilities of flood, earthquake, chemical spill, school shooting, thunderstorms, terrorist attack, snow storm, landslides, etc. Any of these could cause you to be isolated at home for several days.

Remember, there will always be someone needier than you and the more prepared you are, the more you free up resources so they can help those less fortunate.

Jennifer Bailey, formerly of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is the Public Affairs Coordinator of Oregon Emergency Management. She may be reached at (503) 378-2911, Ext. 22294, or jbailey@oem.state.or.us. Additional Facts

Learn more
Send questions about emergency preparedness to be answered in this column to jbailey@oem.state.or.us. Other information may be found at www.oregon. gov/omd/oem or www.fema.gov.

Myth number 2

"All I need is a 72 hour hit with a flashlight, first aid kit, some food and water, and a radio"

The 72 hour figure is a good minimum but in some situations may not be realistic. A more practical goal is to be self-sufficient for a minimum of 2 weeks. Why 2 weeks? As bad a Katrina was, there are numerous disaster and terrorism scenarios that could see substantially more damage and a disruption of local service for several weeks. Also, many biological scenarios may see a 2-week quarantine. Regarding supplies and equipment, be sure to customize your kit to your family's uniques needs.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Top Twelve Myths of Disaster Preparedness

Myth Number 1:

If something happens all I have to do is call 911

Help can only go so far, or be there so quickly. Security, like charity, begins at home and the responsibility for your family's safety rests on your shoulders. This isn't to say that you shouldn't call for help when it's truly needed, it's to remind you that you may be on your own for awhile, especially if the situation is an expansive, or severe one.

Myth Number 2 - tomorrow

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Cost of being unprepared

I'm finding it difficult to convince individuals and families of the importance of being prepared in advance for a disaster. This is especially difficult during the summer months when the weather is nice, school is out and vacations are planned.

Oregon has been fortunate that we haven't had many terrible disasters, but that is no reason to be apathetic to the dangers and possibilities. Just because you haven't had a house fire doesn't mean you would go without a smoke detector, does it?

I am so passionate about this because I spent six years with FEMA traveling from disaster to disaster all over the country. I have SEEN the unprepared. I have talked to them while they are crying. I spoke to one woman on the phone in Mississippi who was in terrible need but no one could get to her because all road and bridges were destroyed and we were out of helicopters. She wasn't prepared to take care of herself for even a few days.

No matter what you may think of or hear about FEMA as an agency, just remember that those on the ground were doing the best they could with what they were given. The first responders have to prioritize. There are not enough of them to go around. If you can take care of yourself and your family for at least 3 days (72 hours) or more, not only will you be more comfortable, but you will really help your community by not being a burden. The 911 call centers will be overrun, possible down. Power may be out, cell phone too. Please take this small step and get a kit together of the most necessary items and put them in one place.

If you are like me and busy and/or too lazy (me again) to make a kit, order one online. There are many companies out there. Google emergency kits. I have ordered from www.quakedog.com/emergencykits72 and have found their kits to be reasonable and well made.

I could and may tell you many stories about my years with FEMA if it is the only way to get you to understand. There is the possibility here of earthquakes, thunderstorms, floods, chemical spills, terrorist attacks, school shooting, bombings, snow storms, tsunamis, fires, and more. Don't think that just because we haven't had some in the past, we won't have them in the future. Our Katrina is coming. Please be prepared.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Red Cross Item for Emergency Kits

Prepare-aphernalia: Pocket Posh Game Books http://readyradio.sprnetwork.com/
If you listened to the first episode of Ready Radio, you know that we talked about how to stay entertained while you shelter in place.

While we mostly focused on card games and board games, we did touch on some activities that are perfect for word (and number) nerds.

To that end, I thought I'd point out these incredibly cute "Pocket Posh" game books, which ensure that you don't forsake style, even in a storm. Crosswords, Sudoku, Word Search, Logic and many more, your $8 investment will be much appreciated when you've got hours to kill.

Check out the Red Cross Blog http://redcrosspdx.blogspot.com/

Great emergency kits at www.quakedog.com/emergencykits72

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


SEATTLE—Summer is the peak season for one of America’s deadliest weather phenomena—lightning. In 2008, hundreds of people were permanently injured by lightning strikes across the country, and 28 were killed. This year to-date, 11 people have been killed by lightning, and statistically, the Fourth of July is one of the most deadly times of the year. According to FEMA Acting Regional Administrator Dennis Hunsinger, National Lightning Safety Awareness Week, observed the last full week of June, not only helps get safety messages out in time for the Fourth of July, but also signals summer as lightning season.

“All thunderstorms produce lightning—and no place outside is safe when lightning is in the area. When thunder roars? Go indoors!” said Hunsinger. “If you can hear thunder, you are in danger. We all need to incorporate lightning safety into our family disaster planning.”

Lightning safety tips for inside the home include:
• Avoid contact with corded phones
• Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. If you plan to unplug any electronic equipment, do so well before the storm arrives.
• Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry.
• Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
• Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
Lightning can strike as far as ten miles away from any rainfall, creating hotspots that smolder for days, to erupt when conditions are right. “Summer is also wildfire season in the Pacific Northwest,” cautions Hunsinger. “Those of us who live in urban interface areas, wooded lots, or near heavily-grassed and dry rangeland should create fire-safe perimeters, and update family disaster plans.”

For more information on lightning safety this year, visit: www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov. For wildfire preparedness tips, sample preparedness plans and emergency checklists, visit http://firewise.org/ or www.fema.gov.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Oregonians Can Help - Statesman Journal Column

Wednesday's column on how to help out others in times of disaster.

We haven’t had many serious life-taking disasters here in Oregon even though many of our counties suffer floods, high winds, snowstorms, and fires. Weekly this column talks about being prepared for the next devastating event. Today’s column is a little different. I want to help you to help people in need outside of Oregon.

Other areas of the country are not as lucky as we are. The Atlantic Ocean hurricane season began June1 and many people will suffer loss of property, possessions and even loss of life this year due to hurricanes.

When the hurricanes start to hit land, maybe Florida or Louisiana, many of you will want to help. It is always heartwarming to see, but can also cause problems.

Consider this - roads are closed following most hurricanes, people are scattered, power is out and communications are down. Trying to drive supplies to a disaster area won’t work. Trucks can’t get through, ice melts, food spoils, and there is no system in place to distribute items that just show up to those in need. The givers and the victims both become frustrated.

But there are a few ways you can help out.

Volunteer at your local Red Cross organizing blood drives. Injured people will need blood.

Ask your local emergency management agency if they are sending volunteer groups to work at the site of the disaster.

Give money. Giving money is the best thing you can do to help during a disaster. Donate to the local or national Red Cross who is set up to provide necessary items and services to people in need. They need money to purchase materials and/or replace those that have been used.

You can be a great help to other parts of the country during disasters. Hopefully you will be prepared when disaster strikes here and won’t need help from them.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Statesman Journal Article for June 10

Don't lose track of important paperwork. Keep copies of documents in  your emergency kits.

When disasters strike, we think of only one thing — survival. Our survival depends on how we act and react to the event. We at Oregon Emergency Management regularly stress being prepared enough to take care of yourself and your family for as long as possible.

Now I want to talk about "after the storm." Often members of our families will need to see the doctor, perhaps even need surgery or some major medical attention. It may be necessary to contact our home owner's insurance agent for information on rebuilding, etc.

Paperwork that we have with us all the time and take for granted like driver's license and insurance card may become lost. It is common for important paperwork to be misplaced during and after a disaster.

OEM suggests that you keep copies of your personal papers in your emergency kit or in a waterproof and fireproof lock box that is easily transported.

Important information you may need is Social Security numbers/cards, mailing and e-mail addresses and phone numbers, birth certificates, adoption papers, marriage certificate, citizenship papers, naturalization documentation, passports, federal and state IDs, shot records, blood types, court orders relating to divorce, child support and custody, alimony or property division.

Gather these together now while you are thinking about it and put them in your kit. You do have a kit, don't you?

Jennifer Bailey, formerly of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is the Public Affairs Coordinator of Oregon Emergency Management. She may be reached at (503) 378-2911, Ext. 22294, or jbailey@oem.state.or.us.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Social Media used by all


FEMA wants public involved in disaster preparedness
washingtonpost.com (June 4, 2009)

"As we prepare for disasters, we have to look at the public as a resource, not as a liability," Fugate said during a conference call with homeland security bloggers on Tuesday -- one of the first times a DHS official has hosted a forum exclusively for online journalists.

"With all the other stuff we do at FEMA, that's one area that you'll probably hear and see me talk about more consistently than probably any other subject," he said, without providing any specific details for how he planned to recruit average Americans for the task.

Fugate touted the agency's YouTube and Twitter efforts and DisasterHelp.gov as examples of the agency's efforts to spread the word in new ways. During a visit to FEMA headquarters late last week, President Obama urged residents of hurricane-prone areas to plan ahead for this year's tropical weather, suggesting that preparedness is a responsibility of citizenship.

Go to the link for entire article.

Friday, June 5, 2009

News Release from FEMA on Power Outages

News Release

Preparedness Tips When the Lights Go Out

SEATTLE – Last night, a massive line of thunderstorms struck across the Pacific Northwest, knocking out power in over 100 communities across Washington, Oregon and Idaho. But all power outages can cause a number of safety concerns as residents seek to light, heat, cool or power their homes from alternative sources, and emergency management officials urge residents to exercise caution.

“Our region is prone to natural disasters ranging from windstorms and lightning strikes, to seasonal flooding, wildfires, earthquakes, and even volcanic activity,” said FEMA Acting Regional Administrator Dennis Hunsinger. “Power grids, generating plants, transformer stations, power poles and even buried cables are vulnerable. As we all review our family disaster plans and disaster kits, emergency power needs can rank right up with food, water, first aid kits and shelter, but we need to be careful!”

When the power fails, resist the temptation to call 9-1-1 for information—that’s what your battery-powered radio is for. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to prevent food spoilage. Turn off electric appliances to protect against power surges when power is restored. Turn off all lights but one (to alert you when power resumes). Plan on cell phones or corded phones for emergency calls—cordless phones require electricity. Keep your car fuel tank at least half-full (gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps). Candles can be dangerous fire hazards. Flashlights and electric lanterns are safer by far. Battery operated radios and clocks are other essentials, along with a supply of fresh batteries. If electric wheel chairs or electric life support devices are part of the equation, consider extra battery packs or a prearranged agreement from local police or fire stations for priority support.

Never use a portable generator in a garage, carport, basement, crawlspace or other enclosed or partially-enclosed area, even with ventilation. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air immediately. Install home Carbon Monoxide alarms that have battery back-up. Store fuel safely.

When the power comes back on, wait a few minutes before turning on major appliances to help eliminate problems that could occur if there’s a sharp increase in demand. If you think that electric power has been restored to your area but your home is still without power, call your local power company.

FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation, to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism and man-made disasters

Anything can happen anytime

Last night's storm is a reminder to all of us that strange things happen when we least expect them. During the summer it is always difficult to get people to take emergency preparedness seriously. When the sun comes out, we forget about all the things that could happen like fire, trees down, power outages, terrorist attacks, chemical spills, earthquakes, tsunamis, shootings, multiple car crashes, etc.

I don't want you to worry or be upset about these things, or let them run your life, but I do want you to be prepared. Just as you have a smoke detector in your home, you should have at least a 3 day (72 hours) emergency supply of food, water and other items.

You can put this kit together on your own or you can purchase one online. There are several companies out there that sell them. One good one I have found is www.quakedog.com/emergencykits72

Join OEM in the 72! I do, do you? campaign. Get your kit together, email me a photo of it and I'll send you a wrist band. jbailey@oem.state.or.us

Thursday, June 4, 2009







Tornado Warning has been lifted. The storm is passing over OEM at this time. Thunderstorm is severe but not long lasting.

NE Marion County under Tornado warning

National Weather Service just issued a Tornado Warning for NE marion County, vicinity Lyonw and headed N/NW toward Salem. At the least we will have thunderstorms. Please stay in and listen to your radio and/or NOAA radio for updates.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

FEMA disaster alerts courtesy of Citizen Corp http://www.citizencorps.gov/.

When a disaster strikes, you need information fast.

FEMA has a free email subscription service that delivers news updates and disaster-related information directly to your computer or wireless device, such as:

When a major disaster is declared
Where local recovery centers are located
What kind of financial aid is available
How to obtain disaster-related assistance
What to do after a disaster has passed
Much more!
To sign up simply click on the following link: https://service.govdelivery.com/service/subscribe.html?code=USDHSFEMA_153. No personal information is required. Just enter an e-mail address and your zip code and state to receive news that affects you in your area. It's that easy.

This news story and other Community Preparedness news, including Citizen Corps Bulletins, can be found on our website at http://www.citizencorps.gov/.


The National Office of Citizen Corps
FEMA Community Preparedness Division

Monday, June 1, 2009

Gravest Challenge of the 21st Century May Be Disease

Overcrowding and Lack of Sanitary Conditions Could Contribute to Future Global Pandemic
May 30, 2009—

Earthquakes and hurricanes can devastate an entire country in just moments. Global warming could gradually raise sea levels, wreaking havoc on the climate and on people's way of life.

And with these potential disasters may come an even more insidious menace, one that could silently sneak up on a population and has the potential to kill thousands, even millions of people in a single strike: disease.

"One of the real challenges we may face in the future is a new disease that sweeps across the planet -- because we're all so tightly connected together," says Thomas Homer Dixon, a political science professor and author of "The Upside of Down."

Watch "Earth 2100," a two-hour television event, Tuesday, June 2, at 9 p.m. ET.

The stage has already been set for life-threatening illnesses to pass effortlessly across international borders, without discriminating between old and young, male or female. Our modern lifestyles and high volume of global air travel enable rapid and efficient dissemination of germs and viruses. Now a changing climate may be contributing to the spread of disease as well.

Illnesses like malaria, dengue fever and the lesser-known Chickengunya, a mosquito-transmitted virus, have already reached beyond the tropical regions where they are normally confined into more temperate zones. In today's world, it is difficult to predict the journey a contagious illness will take or how many people may become sick. Swine flu, thought to have originated in Mexico, has infected people across the world.

"People can be persistently infected with certain types of viruses and bacteria and show no signs of disease," says Dr. Ian Lipkin, professor of epidemiology and neurology at Columbia University. "But they can also be capable of transmitting infection with terrible consequences to people who've not seen it before."

In developing countries, overcrowding in large cities, underfunded health-care systems and lack of sanitary conditions set the stage for disease to fester. Each year, millions of people die from diseases related to unclean water, such as cholera and guinea worm. These deaths are largely preventable, but if drastic measures aren't taken to clean up the world's water supplies, the problem will only get worse.

Diseases Ravage Crops and Food Supply
Population size also plays a role. As the number of people on the planet grows, so does incidence of overcrowding and poverty, which are directly linked to rising rates of infectious disease.

"When people are hungry and malnourished, they are clearly more susceptible to infections," says Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

But diseases don't just affect people. They can also ravage crops and food supplies, wiping out the means of survival for entire population. And our reliance on a system of agriculture that requires food to travel great distances before ending up on our dinner plates renders us extremely vulnerable to diseases caused by food contamination.

"Any contamination which is present in meats or poultry, fish or vegetables or fruits, winds up being distributed to tens of thousands of people," says Dr. Lipkin. "We are very vulnerable through our food distribution networks to the emergence of new or known pathogens."

And what about pathogens that are spread intentionally? The threat of bioterrorism looms large in the 21st century. Scientists say that infectious agents such as anthrax or small pox could be disseminated easily -- and cheaply -- if they got into the wrong hands, causing massive outbreaks of disease.

One of the compounding worries is that our widespread use of antibiotics has degraded our natural ability to fend off certain bacteria and also made possible the evolution of medicine-resistant bugs.

"Some of the simple antibiotics we've had for treatment of common infections no longer work," says Dr. Lipkin. "We've been slow to respond to this challenge."

All of these factors make it possible for some sort of global pandemic to sweep the globe, an event that could potentially kill millions of people, devastate economies and cause worldwide panic. And scientists warn that unless we act to address some or all of the risk factors, such a pandemic could occur in the 21st century.

The good news? New diseases are constantly emerging, and so far, modern medicine has been able to keep up.

"Infectious diseases have been around forever, and they will continue to be around," says Dr. Fauci.

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