By Midge Pierce
Rising from the center of SE Portland is a reminder of nature’s unpredictability: the only volcano in a major American city, according to signage on the Mt. Tabor Caldera. While the vent has been quiet for 300,000 years, headlines about new found Cascadia Subduction Zone fault lines and fickle Pacific Ring volcanic eruptions cause jitters.
Taborvilla, a newly- formed cooperative of four neighborhoods surrounding Mt. Tabor, urges residents to make emergency prep a New Year’s resolution. Sharing training and resources, the group joins Neighborhood Emergency Teams (NET) in readying Portland for the “it’s not-if-but-when” Big One.
Key things to keep in mind according to Taborvilla’s Vicky Towery: First, water is a major priority and second, no one is coming to your rescue, especially if a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hits with nine minutes of strong shaking that downs power lines and trees, blocking streets for months.
Readying for the worst means recognizing that drinking water, sewers and highways could be lost for up to a year. Healthcare facilities could be impaired for up to 18 months. Bridges may be down, gas reserves gone and communications incapacitated.
The good news is residents can do a lot to lessen distress. Start with stocking water, more water than you think you need. One gallon per person per day for 14 days is a rule of thumb, along with sanitation supplies, stockpiles of nonperishables and camping gear. Many items can be found on Amazon and disaster readiness sites.
Implementing a family reunification plan is crucial. Developing a neighborhood list of resources helps identify who has generators, ladders, training as doctors or electricians as well as those most likely to need assistance. Keeping books and toys at the ready can help calm nerves and distract young and old.
Portlanders know to be prepared but most of us are not. Scare tactics overwhelm, but adding a few safety items weekly can make the task less daunting.
Sunnyside NET leader Jan Molinaro says, “Having enough food and water for you and your family is the most important thing you can do.”
To volunteer with neighborhood teams, submit applications at bit.ly/2rig4EX. Training classes are offered by Portland Emergency Management three or four times a year and include light search and rescue, radio communication and first aid.
Lest disaster prospects seem bleak, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management reassures that neighboring volcanoes like Hood, St.. Helens (and yes, the defunct Mt. Tabor caldera) are not imminent threats. Still, experts say be ready, be resilient and have a plan.