Submitted by Carolyn McGown
A group of residents in the Shark Reef and Airport Road neighborhood is meeting monthly to discuss individual and group emergency preparedness. What are the local disaster risks? What steps can be taken to be better prepared, not just in our own homes but also as a neighborhood and in the larger community? Are some models of preparedness more sustainable than others? The meetings are held at the Grange and are open to all. Nathan Donnelly, of Reverance Permaculture and Preparedness, presents a new topic each month, followed by a guest speaker. Past speakers have included J.M. Havner, Lopez fire chief, and Dave Halloran of the SJC Department of Emergency Management.
In addition to the “big one” (a major earthquake), some other local disaster risks are tsunamis, winter storms, wildfire and oil or chemical spills. Although preparedness for each of these looks slightly different, there are some commonalities like food, water and shelter. Halloran emphasized that residents of the islands should not plan to rely on help from the government. After a large-scale disaster, most aid would be directed to the major populations areas, and the islands could have to fend for themselves for a month or longer. While FEMA’s official recommendation is for every household to have two weeks’ worth of supplies, Halloran suggests that islanders ideally have a month or more of supplies at home. This includes food, water and medicine, but don’t forget about the importance of warmth and light during an extended power outage.
Participants are discovering that in addition to stocking, there are other effective, simple steps that can be taken. For example, it is known that about 70 percent of the injuries that appear in emergency rooms after night-time earthquakes are related to broken glass and bare feet. A simple solution? Keep a pair of shoes by your bed. Nathan Donnelly, owner of Reverence Permaculture and Preparedness, suggests going a step further by tucking a flashlight inside and tying your shoes to your bed frame, as furniture has a tendency to travel during a big shake.
The Shark Reef and Airport Road neighborhood group is creating a neighborhood contact list that includes basic household information and an assets and risks inventory that can help guide neighborhood response after a major disaster. Which neighbors might need extra help? Which neighbors have assets (like chainsaws, tractors, medical training) that can be used to help others? And most of all, who are our neighbors? The meetings are fostering preparedness and connection. It has been shown that communities that connect around preparedness before a disaster, are much more likely to thrive after one.
April’s potluck and meeting begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 19, at the Grange. If you plan to participate in the potluck, please bring a dish to share as well as your own plate, utensils and cup. The topic will be communications, with presentations by Donnelly and guest speaker Page Read, from the Lopez Fire and EMS logistics team. All are welcome. Look for future meeting notifications on the Lopez Rocks calendar.