Author: Ralph Pledger
I want to introduce an issue that I am calling "Civilian Disaster Communications" (CDC). By this, I mean the methods by which citizens will attempt to communicate with people who are dear to them in the aftermath of a disaster. This is different from official communications by police, firefighters military personnel etc, but they do overlap somewhat. Examples of CDC are easy to formulate. Parents will be desperate to communicate with a school if their children were in the school during a quake; communications with hospitals will be an area of particular concern; communications with places of work will be critical to many people. These efforts will take place during a state of general distress and chaos.
From experience gained from Hurricane Katrina, we should expect that after a major earthquake nearly all communications that depend on fixed facilities such as cables or cell towers will be non-functional. This means that the devices that will be usable are those that can operate independently of central resources, all or nearly all battery powered. In this group is short distance line of sight devices such as GMRS and FRS radios, satellite-linked telephones and some amateur radio links especially those operated through RACES. Of course, all of these will depend on how prepared their operators are to use the devices. If a sufficient perception of urgency can be generated, other technologies that are not now available could be brought into use.
However the largest gap between what we have now and what will be needed is not with the available technology, but rather the lack of an organization to purchase, deploy and utilize it. Consider what will be involved in a speculative scenario involving one elementary school. The school will need to possess communication devices that will survive the disaster and be ready and personnel capable of operating them. The volume of the communications will be massive. At the other end of the communications link it is not realistic to think that all parents will be equipped to communicate with the school directly, more realistically a subset of parents will provide the communication links and others will need to travel to their homes. Obviously, this will require a lot of preparation including such things as training and periodic testing. A lot of work will need to be done to create this robust environment.
One approach to the problem is represented by the BEECN system in Portland and a similar system in Seattle. Currently, the BEECN consists of about 50 sites distributed around Portland and suburbs at which volunteers will deploy in the case of an emergency and set up communications nodes working with amateur radio operators. If each school, hospital and another point of critical communication was also a node in a system modeled on BEECN it will be possible to encompass a large part of the emergency communications into one system rather than having separate systems for individual entities such as schools and hospitals. BEECN is a promising start but will need much scaling up to be able to meet the potential demand. This task will require the efforts of for-profit, not-for-profit and government entities, and it will be costly. However, like so many of the tasks needed to prepare the region to endure and recover from an earthquake disaster, taking no action will be more expensive in the long run.
Author: Laurie Wimmer
Published: January 27, 2019
The Big One – a major tectonic plate shift, causing earthquakes, tsunamis, and general panic – is said to be inevitable in Oregon sometime in the next 50 years. Climate change, caused by global warming, is also making all those “natural” disasters, such as forest fires, tornados, plant infestations, and severe winter weather, more frequent and intense, too. Every household ought to consider how its members will survive for potentially weeks without heat, electricity, water, communication, and other essentials for survival. I consulted with my son Griffin Wimminger, a wilderness survival enthusiast, to upgrade our family plan for surviving should this happen to us.
The five most important priorities, Griffin taught us, are, in order: shelter, water, food, fire, and medicine. Some add a sixth consideration: personal safety/defense. The mother in me would add yet another: an agreement among family members about the plan for reuniting should a disaster occur while we are not at home (or for grown children living elsewhere). With these priorities in mind, Griffin advised considering two possibilities: the need to flee or evacuate and the ability to stay put, if it’s safe and advised, to whether the emergency at home. We have decided to convert a room that is accessible from the exterior to store our supplies, so that our chance of being able to access them, and quickly, is high. We also have a small emergency bag in each of our vehicles, which contains an emergency light, nutrition bars, a lightweight blanket, a first aid kit, and much more. With these considerations in mind, here is the suggested list of supplies for disaster survival:
SHELTER IN PLACE
In your Home:
Turn off gas, if you have it (keep wrench attached to meter). Unplug all major appliances, or they could fry when power returns.
FINAL NOTE: Make sure you have a plan for meeting up with family at a designated time and place, with contingencies for road damage, bridge collapse, civil unrest, and lack of cell phone.
Auto fuel in your vehicle’s tank may be un-replaceable for a long time, so make sure your plan considers this reality as well. If travel is impossible, plan to collaborate with your neighbors – the safest plan.
Author: Todd Edman, CPREP Board Member
When you take a moment and think about the important things in life, your family, your pets your security, it is sometimes shocking how little we do to maintain those things. Honestly, for myself, I have so much going on in my own life it takes me weeks to cut up a limb from a tree that just fell in my yard! How much time do I really have in my life to prepare for an earthquake that may never happen? What could I really do about it anyway?
The answer is you don't need much time to make a big impact. Even I've cobbled together a go-bag and assembled an emergency plan for my family. So let's start with the impact so you know WHY you are taking 30 minutes out of a Saturday to get started on preparing for the Cascadia quake.
The odds of the quake happening when my kids are still school-aged is high. When we are talking high, we are talking living in Florida and experiencing a direct hit from a hurricane type of high. Just imagine how you feel about someone in Florida telling you they didn't prepare for a Hurricane because they didn't think it would happen. Seems silly doesn't it? Same for the Cascadia Earthquake. Wipe any scenario out of your head in which you spend some time preparing for the quake and it never happens. That's not going to happen.
When it happens you will absolutely need the items you've prepared. I'm not talking about building a bomb shelter full of food here. I'm talking about practical things you'll be glad you did. Even if our infrastructure along the I5 corridor stays relatively intact, interruption in basic services is unavoidable. You can't count on water, electricity, internet, or cell phones to be available in the 2 days after the quake, even in a best-case scenario. I could go into the reasons why but the point isn't to scare anyone. Just know that its a really good idea to prepare.
The point is to start. You don't have to do much to really get moving. Here are my suggestions:
Step One: Take a sheet of the top of your grocery list. Tear it in half. Write down where your family will meet if they can get to your house, and where they will meet if they can't get to your house. Write down how long to wait after the quake at each location. Then pick a third location that's a public facility and meet at the public shelter closest to that location. Put a copy of each in each family car in the glove box and take a picture of it will your cell phone. Text it to your loved ones. Step one done. That took 10 minutes. Easy.
Step Two: Get a gallon zip-lock plastic bag. Any medications that your family depends on? Put a 5 day supply in the bag labeled with the date you put it in and the expiration date of the medication. Boom. 10 More minutes. This is the start of your "go bag." Do one and put it in the car that your most likely going to have at home or the one you'll drive in an emergency. Now do another for your other car.
Step Three: Go to your grocery list. Add in a bag of Dog food/cat food more than you normally do. Store it someplace in your house that's inconvenient so you don't use it instead of buying another bag. Also, double the amount of can food/soup items that you're going to buy next time and store this with the Dog food. Do this the next 2-3 times you go to the store and you'll have a good stash started. I bought an extra box of Cliff Bars and stashed it with my camping stuff.
Step 4: Buy milk in jugs? Great! Rinse them out well and fill them with water from the tap. Put the cap on and store them in your shed. That will give you one gallon for each person. Feeling ambitious? Do two for each. The chlorine from the tap water should keep them in good shape, but you might want to refill once a year so write on them the date with a sharpie.
Step 5: If that's all you do great! But if you've done the first few, you'll likely want to keep going! Go to REI or Bi-Mart or wherever you buy camping stuff. Buy 3 sets bottles of water purification tablets. (They come in set's of two...one to purify and one to make it not taste like iodine.) Put one in each car go-bag and one with your food stock. That will give you plenty of extra water should you need it for a bit longer.
So I'm going to stop there. Just decided you're going to start and as you do you'll find that you feel more secure and you'll be SO GLAD. I can't even describe how good it feels to even begin the process.
And you know know what....you'll never ever regret you did it.
Author: Steve Robinson, CPrep President
We know that the earth is warming. This is causing many problems here in America, with excessive heat, superstorms, and the like. Low-lying and tropical regions worldwide are at a greater risk of flooding and historic heat waves.
We also know that the Pacific Northwest is susceptible to monster earthquake and tsunami events that have occurred at random intervals for as far back as geological evidence is available. The vast majority of Oregon's liquid fuel reserves are stored at a giant facility in Portland, consisting of fuel tanks - some a century old - built on liquifiable soil along the Willamette River. When the Cascadia earthquake hits, this entire facility is at risk of total destruction and causing an environmental catastrophe that could exacerbate the physical damage to the built environment. It will be many months before FEMA is able to supply liquid fuel to meet the needs of the 10 million people living in the earthquake-prone zone.
One approach that deals with both problems is to move as quickly as possible away from fossil fuel as an energy source and toward solar, biomass, and wind. Reducing carbon emissions will help mitigate climate change and reducing our reliance on fossil fuel will increase our earthquake resilience by allowing for energy to be generated locally, rather than our community depending on earthquake-vulnerable fuel pipelines.
After watching the video footage from the July 27th Portland City Club's Friday Forum on earthquake prepareness, I have a few thoughts. I think all of the government employees on the panel did a great job. But my biggest concern about resilience-building efforts to date is that government employees are limited to describing actual programs and are constrained from offering policy suggestions. For visionary solutions, we must look to elected officials and private-sector leaders, but there weren't any private sector folks on the panel.
My suggestion is that in order to "surround the problem," we need to mount a stronger resilience effort. This should include beefing up the Chief Resilience Officer's operation as well as incorporating all levels of the private sector, including industry organizations in a major role. We need someone to start putting forth a vision of how we get to where we need to go, rather than just dealing with granular aspects of preparedness. I hope the state government gets to that place, but so far I'm not seeing it. The panel gave positive examples about efforts that are being made, but I don't remember anybody offing an idea of how soon we could achieve a good state of resilience (or even how we could determine what a "good" state looks like) given the current trajectory of programs.
At Cascadia Prepared, we are developing our Resilience Scorecard Project, which will look at our critical "lifeline" infrastructure, applaud achievements, assign a score to the current state of resilience for each one, then suggest what actions could be taken in order to raise that score.
I have tremendous respect for the work of everyone on stage: Jay Wilson , Clackamas County Resilience Coordinator, Yumei Wang, Geotechnical Engineer at the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, Megan Niell, Engineering Services Manager at Multnomah County, and Jonna Papaefthimiou, Planning and Community Resilience Manager at the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management. My comments as a former government employee with roots in the private sector should not be taken as criticism of their work, but simply as how I analyze the dynamics.
While browsing for helpful resources to mention here, I came across this article in Parents Magazine. It contains an extensive list of items to prepare for your home and go-bag, as well as some thoughts on preparing your young child for the possibility of being stranded at school after an earthquake.
A 27-chapter novella by Tom Banse, serialized in the Bellingham Herald recently. Check it out here.
Very worthwhile article in The Globe and Mail today that explains how people react to warnings of disaster.
Watch this excellent video on the potential collapse of the Burnside Bridge in the next CSZ event, and its effect on all connected modes: streets and highways running under bridge approaches on both sides of the river including I-5, the railway, and boat traffic on the Willamette.
The new ShakeAlert system may help water utilities in the Cascadia region to protect their facilities. See this article in Water Online.