Red Cross volunteers help prepare Lents neighbors for disaster

See how and why the Red Cross canvassed outer SE Portland homes – helping folks get ready for storms, floods, earthquakes, and anything else that might come along …

At Lents Baptist Church, Kate Fagerholm, Community Program Specialist for American Red Cross, Oregon Trail Chapter, checks in volunteers with co-worker Kelly Scott, as they get ready to canvass Lents Neighborhood homes.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While the Oregon Trail Chapter of the American Red Cross is known for helping people after a disaster – like a house fire – occurs, they’re also taking a proactive role in helping families stay safe.

“Our teams are going out today, going door-to-door, spreading the message of preparedness to people here in the Lents neighborhood, said Kate Fagerholm, a Community Program Specialist with their organization.

“We’re stationed today at the Lents Baptist Church, on SE Woodstock Boulevard,” Fagerholm said, “Because both this church and the Lents Seventh-Day Adventist churche [located across the street, to the North] are already designated as shelter locations during large disasters, and their congregations are trained in shelter operations. Now we’re keeping the momentum going, by providing preparedness information and supplies to residents.”

Coming back from a morning of canvassing in the Lents Neighborhood are Red Cross volunteers Anastasia Hernandez-Vasquez, Anne Kinnaman, and Alex Peterson.

Another reason they chose Lents to spread the safety message, Fagerholm said, “Is because there is a high incidence of fires in this area. We try to help people up prevent problems like fires, as well as helping them be prepared for disasters.”

Volunteers fanned out through the neighborhood, distributing flashlights and printed information. “We hope this get them started on a preparedness kit,” Fagerholm explained.

A “preparedness kit” might contain:

  • Flashlights and other kinds of safe (not candles) emergency lighting;
  • Spare batteries;
  • Cooking camp stove;
  • Water, both for drinking and cleaning;
  • Insurance information;
  • Prescription medication;
  • Contact information for friends and family;
  • Cash, in case ATMs aren’t working.

Heading out for an afternoon of visiting with neighbors in Lents are volunteers Brandon Estevez and Gabe Martin – who also is the local chapter president of disaster preparedness and educational outreach group called “Zombie Squad”.

“We’re hoping that people learn that they need to be trained in CPR and first aid, and to make a plan, using our ‘5 Ts’ way: Talk to your family; Train to do the plan; Take stock of the things that you have in your house; Tell family members where emergency contacts are; and Test the plan over and over,” instructed Fagerholm.

To learn more, including preparedness information – including access to copies of their pamphlets for downloading, and information on CPR training – see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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