Leaders urge emergency preparedness
October 12, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
Issaquah Highlands residents gathered at Blakely Hall over pizza and soda late last month to prepare for a cataclysm.
The meeting, part of the statewide Map Your Neighborhood effort, brought together residents of a highlands neighborhood to prepare for the aftermath of a strong earthquake.
“What we found out with Katrina and the Kobe earthquake in Japan is that neighbors depend on neighbors,” Stuart Linscott, a highlands resident and Issaquah Citizen Corps Council board member, told the group.
Linscott and other corps members offer free education and training to organize Issaquah residents — neighborhood by neighborhood — for disasters.
Because only a handful of Eastside Fire & Rescue firefighters might be on duty in Issaquah at the time of a calamity, city and state officials encourage residents to take steps to prepare.
“If they’re more prepared, then there’s less recovery afterward, there’s less stress, there’s less demand on our other resources, such as fire and police and those types of things,” Rosanne Garrand, public education coordinator for the state Emergency Management Division, said last week.
Map Your Neighborhood is designed to help residents help family members and neighbors in the critical moments after a disaster. The state Emergency Management Division developed the program.
The program urges neighbors to join together and share skills and tools related to disaster response — everything including chainsaws and medical knowledge — and locate natural gas and water shutoff valves.
“Counties and cities and even the state, we have a limited staff, but when you get those volunteers out there, they’re the ones that are motivating their people,” Garrand said.
Brenda Bramwell, Issaquah Citizen Corps Council president, said the Map Your Neighborhood and Community Emergency Response Team programs had attracted dedicated volunteers.
Community Emergency Response Teams maintain a presence in many Issaquah neighborhoods, but city leaders continue to encourage homeowners and entrepreneurs to plan for emergencies.
Bret Heath, city Public Works Operations and emergency management director, urged more businesses to prepare for disasters.
“Getting those small businesses back up and running is really key to economic recovery,” Heath said. “That’s important to getting back to normal quickly.”
Free pizza and preparedness
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.