We take our dog McKinley down to swim in the Columbia River on a regular basis. So we took special note of a newspaper article about the Columbia nearing flood stages. With all the run-off from the extra snowpack in the mountains and heavy rains this spring, the river will crest some time tonight. But it’s not really a threat to the area because the basin is set up to handle the extra flow. It’s still at 15’ below trouble. The article was just a way of telling boaters and hikers to be alert. So we took him down, and sure enough the river was cresting - we skipped his swim just to be on the safe side.
Although we were not in danger, seeing the river got us thinking about all those folks along the Mississippi and how they’re coping. Certainly national attention, and a visit from the President, will keep FEMA, the National Guard, and the Red Cross busy. But what about those situations where it’s not exactly a national emergency but you’re still affected and you can’t expect help right away? How do you get prepared for unusual natural disasters – whether it’s a flood, earthquake or storms that cut off basic services?
Well, for starters, you could go to Costco or Walmart and buy an emergency preparedness kit. Or, thanks to excellent checklists from the Red Cross and FEMA, you can put together your own kit. The Red Cross web site is full of comprehensive advice for difference disaster scenarios, and it’s a bit overwhelming at first. But with these checklists, you have tangible steps you can take now. Here’s an example of the some of the basic items they recommend:
Water—one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
Food—non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
Cell phone with chargers
Flashlight and extra batteries
Radio - battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAAWeather Radio, if possible)
First aid kit, including any medications you’re taking (7-day supply)
Sanitation and personal hygiene items
Family and emergency contact information
Map(s) of the area
There’s a lot more to consider, so you may want to download the checklist to get started. So even if you’re not in a floodplain or feel you’re protected from most natural disasters, it’s still a good idea to be alert and be prepared.
This could easily become an email for a SOI (Sphere of Influence), since most of us live in an area where something can happen. You're welcome to take this idea and make it your own. It's not only a handy list, but a nice way of reminding others of your concern for their well being and safety. There are also checklists specifically for certain regions and specific events. FEMA and The Red Cross websites are public domains, so there’s not a problem with sharing their information and resources.