THIS REPORT FILED BY BRUCE SMITH IN THE EATONVILLE DISPATCH DEMONSTRATES HOW FAR AHEAD THEY ARE OF YELM AND THURSTON COUNTY ON EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
“With keypad locks on the doors and a thick-paned, bank-teller-like glass window at the receptionist desk, visitors to the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management in Tacoma know immediately that this agency is fast preparing for the post-9-11, global warming world.
In the event of a major disaster to Graham and the south County area, the DEM is the agency most responsible for delivering the food, clothing and shelter that many will need – or evacuation, as in the case of a Katrina-like event.
“People have huge expectations,” said Steve Bailey, Director of the DEM, “in what I call a CNN disaster – an emergency that TV stations cover ’round the clock. ‘When is the government going to get here and put things back to normal?’ That attitude is pervasive in our culture. But it is unrealistic.”
Instead, Bailey recommends that people prepare themselves to survive in-place for at least seven days. That means food, water, an alternative source of heat like a portable propane heater or wood stove, sufficient medications, pet foods and games for the kids.
In addition, Bailey said that one of the most critical things that people can do is to know their neighbors…
In terms of what the governmental response will be in a major disaster, what the DEM calls a Category Three Disaster, Bailey said it takes the National Guard about 24 hours to mobilize, while at least 72 hours are required for a large-scale response from outside the county, such FEMA or the military…
When asked about the probability of a Category Three event, Bailey replied, “I think it’s undoubtedly going to happen. Within the last eighteen months we’ve had three federally-declared disasters in Pierce County. I’ve been in emergency management for 40 years and I’ve never seen that kind of thing before. We’re definitely seeing an increase in the frequency and severity of wind storms, floods and the like.”
For more information about emergency preparedness, contact Sheri Badger, Public Information Officer of the DEM: 253-798-2204.”
Mr. Smith added, “Graham Fire and Rescue gave a presentation to the Graham Business Association yesterday [January 16] their monthly meeting on the topic of Business Preparedness – particularly how to care for customers and employees, and ideas on how best to save your business in the aftermath of a disaster.”
THIS KIND OF PLANNING AND PUBLIC OUTREACH WOULD BE WELCOME IN YELM…