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.