Thursday, July 16, 2009

People do odd things during a disaster

Statesman Journal Column
July 15, 2009
Prepare to survive disasters

I've seen and heard of a few things that were done during disasters that are funny to talk about later, but not the best course of action during a disaster.

First there was a really nice couple in Delaware that "didn't need any help" after the devastating flood. They moved their TV into the "dry" room and slept, ate and watched TV in there. When they needed to get anywhere, they took a small rowboat.

Besides the bacteria in the water and the mold, there was also the issue of using electricity in such a situation. They were very nice people but were not prepared to evacuate.

Next we have the older lady who, during an earthquake, decided to hold a large heavy mirror up over the mantle of the fireplace so it wouldn't fall. What should she have done? Duck, cover and hold — not hold the mirror.

And then there's the young couple who went to the Mississippi coast to watch the hurricane. Enough said about that.

It may seem that these people are the minority, but the truth is most people think they will be OK and can do whatever they want -It's the others who need to be prepared, have an emergency kit and have a plan.

"We've got stuff around the house, the animals surely will be OK, nothing ever happens here anyway, right?"

Don't be in denial.

Don't think that these things will never happen to you. If they don't — great! But if they do?

Please be prepared for as many situations as you can. It's like teaching your children to look both ways before crossing the street. I'm telling you — look both ways!

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

Learn more
Please send questions about emergency preparedness to be answered in this column to Other information may be found at www.oregon. gov/omd/oem or