03/15/2011: "Disaster Preparedness"
By Brendan Cowan
Last week’s earthquake in Japan has grabbed headlines across the world for obvious reasons. The scale of the destruction is hard to fathom and difficult to digest.
This is especially true for those of us in the Pacific Northwest, a place with an underlying geology and risk of disaster that is similar to Japan. It’s hard not to wonder if it could happen here.
That concern, coupled with the Japanese quake spawning a tsunami that caused damage in the U.S., makes it a good time to address some common questions I’ve heard over the last couple of days. I’ll try to keep it simple and provide links to more info for those who want to dig deeper. Here are a few critical points we should all be aware of:
• Getting info to the public in a crisis is critical. Each islander is strongly encouraged to go to www.sanjuandem.net/alert to learn more and sign up for our new Island Emergency Alert System.
• We live in earthquake country and we will experience a major quake someday. Everyone needs to take some basic preparedness steps. Go to www.sanjuandem.net/prepare for info on where to begin, or call us at 370-7612.
• There are a couple of situations that could result in a tsunami affecting the islands. In both cases we will feel the earthquake first. If you feel a major quake, head to high ground. It’s never hard to get 30 feet above the water in the islands. There was some confusion about this after the Japan quake- but best science still says that the islands don’t need to worry about a tsunami from a distant earthquake.
• Want to learn more? View our much more in depth Frequently Asked Questions about Quakes & Tsunamis (www.sanjuandem.net/quakefaq) or call or email us to talk things over.
• Want to help the survivors in Japan? Here is a page with links to organizations working to assist in the response and recovery.
The main message of course is this: every islander has a responsibility to themselves, their family, and their community to be prepared to be on their own for a week or more. Let us know if you need help.