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What Can the PNW Learn from Recent Disasters?

Skyler Hallgren | SEP 15, 2017

Hurricane Harvey Rescues- Photo Credit David J. Phillip/AP

Photo Credit: David J. Phillip/AP

Hurricane Harvey has been called the worst natural disaster to strike Texas and it is the first major hurricane to strike land since 2005. More than 30,000 people have been displaced. Economic losses are estimated between $70 to $190 billion. There are efforts taking place all across the country to help aid those who’ve been impacted by this great disaster.

West Coast Warning

We are often warned, and prepared, for events that never happen. Eventually, the warnings become commonplace and our preparation efforts lessen. But then an event strikes and it forces us to reflect on our apathetic approach. This year, it was Hurricane Harvey and we were just not prepared.

When you live in an area that’s frequently subjected to disaster warnings (like the Pacific Northwest), ignoring these warnings becomes a source of pride. We laugh at the idea of stockpiling food and water, and make claims about the never leaving our homes, because we’re strong and nature cannot threaten us.

The warnings of earthquakes, landslides, forest fires and tsunamis are so familiar, they no longer evoke fear or action. But the truth is, we should never stop preparing because eventually the reports will be right and a disaster will strike.

Recently, scientists have warned that as time passes, the chances of a major earthquake increases. Having witnessed the devastating affects of Hurricane Harvey, we, especially here in the northwest, should reconsider our preparation strategies. We should take action now.

It is never too early to plan for an event like this, but at some point, it will be too late.

What Happens Next

With the unfortunate aftermath of a natural disaster, difficult questions fill the minds of people all across the country, and especially Texans.

When will the responders arrive?
How will all the people and their families be cared for?
How long does rebuilding take?

The answers to these piercing questions aren’t exactly conversations we want to have around the dinner table because they’re sobering and difficult. But they’re important and we do need to make time to talk about natural disasters and their effects.

We talk with our children about using bike helmets, we ask our friends and family to let us know when they’ve arrived safely to a destination.
The reason we do these things is because safety, communication, and preparedness put our minds at ease.

Harvey Shelter

Photo Credit: LM Otero AP

Knowledge is Power

So, what can we take from the events of this recent disaster?

  • Preparedness and a plan of action are factors we can control, natural disasters are not.   
  • First responders are first, but they are not immediate.
  • Rebuilding a community takes lots of time.
  • Communication with family or friends, in other parts of the country or world, is important.

We need to do what we can with what we know.
It’s important to understand that this disaster will not be cleaned up overnight. The affected communities are left worrying about food, shelter, and clothing.  While there are great relief efforts in place, distribution of these goods is another challenge in and of itself.

Preparation is Key

From Hurricane Harvey, and other catastrophic events that have struck different parts of our country, we know personal preparedness is one of the most important elements to surviving the aftermath. Preparedness should be organized long before the warning of disaster takes place.

We know we are overdue for a major disaster here in the PNW, and we should see disasters elsewhere as a reminder to prepare ourselves.. A disastrous event like Hurricane Harvey is a real threat, and having a plan in place is the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family.

(photo credit: CNN)

The best way to prepare:

  1. Have supplies ready so if you must evacuate, you can do so quickly. Build your own, or buy one - either way, you can use our custom bags as a model for what you should have.
  2. Educate yourself about what supplies you may need for long term displacement
  3. Have a contact in another part of the state or country so you can disseminate information quickly
  4. Outline a meeting place and communication plan for your family so you can find each other should you be separated

Be educated and focus on what you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

Check out these
five easy steps to prepare your home. Make sure you’re doing all that you can to protect yourself and your family - your family will be thankful you prepared.