Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Emehrrgency, Emehrrgency, Everrrybody to get frrrom Strrreet...

Remember Alan Arkin speaking this phrase in "The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming"? One of the funniest movies I think I've ever seen, it gave me a good line to spout whenever things got a little too serious.

However, it did not come to mind last night when I attended the first session of the Emergency Preparedness seminar offered by Whidbey Island volunteers schooled in the issues of disaster response.

In a serious but light-hearted presentation, we heard about the challenges we would face in a variety of disaster scenarios and how we might address them. We learned about filling a grab and go bag with essentials in case of an earthquake or fire; getting water from the house water heater; "if it's yellow, let it mellow"; that Island County has chosen a site where it will dig a mass grave in the event of a pandemic; how and what can be shared with neighbors; dealing with pets (cats are a problem); purifying dirty water; storing a 10 day or more supply of food, water, and other necessities where animals won't break into it; precautions in the event of radiation exposure. The list was endless.

None of it was presented with a Doom and Gloom overlay, but it was clear that being informed and prepared was a smart thing to do. We all went through the lengthy and frequent power outages of early winter and doubtless this experience was why some 40-50 people showed up at this first session.

What stood out for me was the importance of being connected to others in the community, to help and to be helped. A neighborhood can act as a buddy system for its residents, making sure that each household has adequate resources and a contact point in time of need.

It was a sobering but enjoyable evening. I was pleased that several UUCWIers were also in attendance. And I was pleased as well that UUCWI is fostering neighborhood groupings itself, as well as looking at how we might serve others as neighbor. I came home pondering the opportunities that crisis can offer.

7 comments:

LinguistFriend said...

Indeed. I just got home after digging myself out of my parking place at work, where most of a foot of the white stuff had come down and a lot more had been shoved into the region behind my car (parked at the end of the lot) by the snowplow. Brrr. It brings back fond memories of my studies at the Univ. of Iowa in winters when noone worked late alone in our building at night, because it so often would take two people to get one's car out of the snow and then started in the right direction.
LinguistFriend

ms. kitty said...

I'm glad you're home safely and not under many feet of snow somewhere in upstate NY, like some of my other friends! You must be west of the lake-country effect, right?

LinguistFriend said...

I was just chatting about that at work with a colleague from the upper NY state snow belt. There wasn't much snow here when they called in a snow-day, and then a foot fell, but in upper NY state it would be two feet, then grow to ten. We are just over twenty miles south of the west end of Lake Erie. Even that makes a big difference; it is definitely colder in the part of Michigan straight west from the lake.

Stephanie said...

Our neighborhood has "survivor circles" of people who are supposed to know how to turn off each other's propane tanks, water, etc. I'm glad the meeting went well.

ms. kitty said...

Stephanie, thanks for that idea. I'll add it to the others I got last night.

Berrysmom said...

We are just starting some exploration about what our church might do in the event of a flu pandemic (probably bird flu). Medical professionals in our congregation are in agreement that it's not a matter of "if" but of "when." The widening circles of disaster and upheaval are mind-boggling.

If your training included mention of this kind of thing, would you please get in touch with me separately?

ms. kitty said...

I will share what I get from the training, Judy. We haven't gotten much detail yet about any specific scenario.