Photo courtesy of Yelm-based photographer Guustaaf Damave
The Eatonville Dispatch’s Bruce Smith filed this report about how one Southwest Pierce County town is preparing for potential storms. Reprinted with permission
Graham Prepares for Storms
[Ed. Note: Nice to see one area town taking preparations for their citizens seriously.]
“Despite the balmy temps and clear blue skies on a perfect Saturday afternoon, thirty Graham residents assembled October 13th at Evergreen Presbyterian Church on Meridian Ave to discuss emergency preparedness with a bevy of Red Cross and county officials.
We all saw what happened with Katrina, said Sheri Badger, Vulnerable Populations Coordinator for Pierce County Department of Emergency Management. We need to prepare for a huge regional event, one where calling 911 wont be much of an option.
Badger stressed that all residents need to stockpile enough food, water and medicine for seventy-two hours, and to duplicate that effort in multiple kits for every part of their life – home, car, school or business office.
Supplies for seventy-two hours is the minimum. What we saw with Katrina is that large scale disasters require each of us to have food and water for a week to ten days – that is what we recommend.
An official with the Red Cross declared: Its not a question of if; its a question of when. We are seeing more and more tornados in Washington, and other kinds of severe storms.
Members of the Red Cross and the Pierce County Department of Aging and Disabilities Services displayed the preparedness kits they stow in their cars. Cans of tuna fish, crackers, beef jerky, chocolate, granola bars and bottles of water made up the core of the food supply. But their preparations also included blankets, ponchos, work gloves and a self-generating crank radio and flashlight that costs fifteen dollars at Costco.
It doesnt have to be fancy, and it doesnt have to be expensive, said Linda from the Red Cross. I have enough in my kit for my husband and me, plus five grand children, and it only cost forty dollars.
Pastor Lance Williamson of Evergreen Presbyterian said that he and his congregation are beginning to develop a preparedness plan for their community, reflecting a growing awareness in Graham of the need to get ready for major disasters.
Several neighborhoods in Graham are already members of the PC NET- Pierce County Neighborhood Emergency Team, a system where the county helps neighbors get to know each other and prepare a mutual assistance plan.
In addition, all Bethel schools have between four-hundred to eight-hundred gallons of water stockpiled for emergencies, along with enough canned chili to feed every student and teacher for three days.
Others are preparing by fostering self-reliance. Bob and Terry Bonnell have built five solar panel arrays, installed a passive-solar water heater, and erected a one-hundred twenty-foot tall wind generator on their thirteen acres in southwest Graham. Together, their system produces nearly all of their energy needs. In fact, during the optimum months of the summer, the Bonnells generate excess electricity that they sell back to Tacoma Power. This past September, the utility sent them a check for $466.
For assistance in emergency preparation call the Red Cross / FEMA at 1-800-480-2520, or the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management at (253) 798-2204.
When a storm is approaching and you need information on shelters, evacuations, up-to-date storm analysis and other disaster response issues, call the Pierce County Emergency Operations Center at (253)-798-7470.
For self-reliance preparations, contact the NW Solar Group at (253) 847-6964 or www.northwestsolargroup.org, or join the Graham Self-Reliant Community Roundtable held in the Hangar Inn on the first Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m.”