‘Disaster Forum’ gives timely safety tips

On the anniversary of the great Cascadia ‘quake of 1700, see why the information provided here is timely, indeed …

Another outer East Portland “Public Safety Forum” gets underway: This time, featuring experts on disaster preparedness.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

On January 26, 1700, the great Cascadia earthquake – with an estimated moment magnitude of 8.7 to 9.2 – ripped along the Cascadia subduction zone, an area that includes much of the Oregon coast, and sent out a tsunami that flooded Japan.

On the weekend before the anniversary of that historic quake, on January 21, Centennial neighbor Ron Clemenson hosted another in a series of “Public Safety Forums”, this one entitled “Earthquake and Disaster Preparedness”, at Savage Memorial Presbyterian Church.

Forum host and moderator Ron Clemenson begins the program on “Earthquake and Disaster Preparedness”.

“I was at a meeting in Gresham a month or so ago on this topic, and it kind of got my attention,” Clemenson remarked. “People here at the church said they thought this would make a good topic for a public forum here.

“What I learned was that disasters, either naturally-occurring or man-made, can leave people stranded and in desperate condition – if they haven’t taken steps to prepare for a widespread emergency situation,” Clemenson told East Portland News.

Some 35 people gathered in the church’s Fellowship Hall as the meeting began – and Clemenson, serving as moderator, introduced the speakers.

PBEM Assistant Program Specialist Ernest Jones begins his presentation.

The first to present was Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) Assistant Program Specialist Ernest Jones. “I coordinate the Basic Earthquake Emergency Communications Node (BEECN) program.

“A BEECN is a place to go in Portland after a major earthquake, to ask for emergency assistance if phone service is down, or to report severe damage or injury,” Jones said.

Volunteers check a BEECN, making sure it is ready to respond to an emergency. PBEM image

“If a big disaster happens, like a big earthquake, and the telephone lines go down, these BEECN kits – there about a dozen of them located in outer East Portland – are packed with first-aid and radio equipment,” Jones said. It’s important to know that they’re out there, and just where they’re located, so you can get help when it’s needed.”

Find out more about the BEECN, and find your local node, at its official webpage: CLICK HERE.

PBEM’s Ernest Jones encourages people to check out PublicAlerts.org

Jones also encouraged people to learn more about, and to sign up on, the Public Alerts.org website.

“If they do sign up and enter a telephone number, when an emergency takes place in their neighborhood, they can be alerted about it,” explained Jones.

“It’s kind of like ‘Reverse 9-1-1, but totally voluntary – and, on the website are posted announcements that can be seen for those who didn’t sign up,” Jones added. “During the recent ice storms and snowstorms, there was a lot of information about what roads were open and closed, for example.”

Learn more about the PublicAlerts system at their official website: CLICK HERE.

American Red Cross Cascades Region volunteer Bob Fowler shows some of the gear that can be helpful to you immediately after a disaster strikes.

Then, American Red Cross Cascades Region volunteer Bob Fowler talked about disaster preparation.

One doesn’t need to be come an “end-of-the-world prepper”, Fowler told East Portland News. “We show everyday people how to become more prepared. This is about self-reliance; we want to have people have lists of things to do to get ready, and what to do when an emergency happens.”

Emergency kits, such as this one offered by American Red Cross, can prove very helpful in times of need.

It’s important to put together and maintain an emergency kit, Fowler instructed. “Be prepared, and be aware that services will not be available from emergency first-responders, in most cases, for up to 72 hours after a disaster.”

It’s helpful to have a reasonable stock of food and supplies on hand for lesser emergencies, Fowler pointed out. “During the recent winter storm, there was a ‘run’ on grocery stores, because people worried about not having food because they hadn’t stocked up.”

Fowler also made available a preparedness handbook.

“It doesn’t take a lot of time and money to be prepared; just a bit of planning, and discussing the plan with your family and co-workers,” Fowler concluded.

To learn more, see the official American Red Cross Cascades Region’s website: CLICK HERE.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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