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 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.