by Gina Luna
- The Capitol Hill Times -
Monday evening, Emergency Preparedness Training Specialist Michell Mouton joined the East District Council meeting to spread the word: individuals, families, and neighbors need to have a seven-to-10-day emergency plan in place before the next disaster. No one knows when that next disaster will happen, and history shows that crises don’t have the good manners to call ahead of time to give people warning, so there’s a need to be ready always – tomorrow and 20 years out.
The City of Seattle has a response plan that involves the police and fire departments, Seattle Public Utilities, and so on. Part of that plan is that individuals be resilient and prepared, since the city’s first responders – firefighters, for example – won’t be able to respond to regular calls in the usual 15-minutes-or-less.
Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare (SNAP), the city’s program that assists residents to get organized for emergency, encourages families, neighbors, neighborhoods, and blocks to organize together, even involving local businesses where applicable.
They’ll send a team of emergency specialists, free of charge (usually with cookies), to anyone’s house to talk with that group of neighbors and establish a plan, like where to meet, how to build a supply kit and share information, and establish an out-of-area contact. The size of the group doesn’t matter.
Mouton told The Capitol Hill Times, “We usually tell people, ‘You need to start with yourself.’ If you can’t take care of yourself, you’re not going to be able to help the guy next door. We always want to be helpful, but when an emergency happens, we realize, ‘Gosh, I can’t help the guy next door. My house is on fire and I don’t even have a fire extinguisher.’”
Today, Capitol Hill has two HUBs – one in Volunteer Park and the other in Cal Anderson Park – run by community volunteers, which include emergency supplies. Many more are needed around the neighborhood.
Members of the EDC were most concerned with their supply of drinking water in the case of an emergency. A human can survive about three weeks without food, but only three days without water.
“Essentially, it should be the first and only thing that you think about,” Andrew Taylor, Chair of the EDC suggested to the city.
Another attendee who works with hospitals in the area said that hospitals use millions of gallons of water per day, and that it would be impossible for them to store enough so that they would remain operational. “It would make an awful lot of sense if we could drill some local wells that could be activated if we had a disaster,” they said.
Seattle, Capitol Hill, and individuals have strides to take in becoming prepared. Individuals can begin now by setting up a SNAP meeting with an emergency specialist by calling 206-233-5076 or emailing SNAP@Seattle.gov.