Monday, March 14, 2011

In Case of an Emergency, Grab Your Go Bag!

By now most, if not all have heard the tragic news out of Japan. The images are rather gut-wrenching to watch and it will be a long road for the people of Japan to recovery. While the disaster seems to be ongoing with aftershocks on the level of what we would consider severe earthquakes, continued tsunami warnings, and of course the worsening nuclear reactor situation, a bit of attention has turned to just how prepared we, as a country are. Personally, I have also been looking at how prepared we ourselves, and our neighbors and fellow citizens are.
We had our own test with the same tsunami that devastated parts of Japan. At 2:00 am Friday, we were awakened by our neighbor, who is the emergency block captain, pounding on our front door. That was the first news we had of the earthquake in Japan and the tsunami which was now headed our way. Now, I wish I could say we were 100% prepared for an emergency evacuation but to be honest. we were only partially prepared. Fortunately for us, we had a lot of warning. I had the car packed with emergency supplies for us and our dog within an hour.
We live four blocks from the ocean but the area we live in is mountainous. We are up a hill. Our house is on the very edge of the inundation zone. We would only have to go a short block or two uphill to be in what is considered a safe area. Not all towns on the Oregon coast are in hilly areas so we are fortunate. The town has emergency plans and my husband had just completed training for the local C.E.R.T. (community emergency response team). He made sure I was OK and had a plan while he went to the meeting place to help with evacuation. He left at 4:30 am after helping our block captain notify the neighbors and the first tsunami siren went off at 5:00 am. We have heard the siren tests every month. Hearing the siren for real in the dark was eerie.
I had the television on while I was packing and loading the car and was able to watch the tsunami hit Hawaii, where my family live. They always show the area that is a few blocks down the street from where my mother lives so I would be able to see, live, what is happening to her neighborhood. I relaxed when the event was over and knew then that we would be OK staying at home, and indeed they downgraded the evacuation to voluntary instead of mandatory. Folks in the zone closer to the ocean did continue to evacuate.
While I was getting things packed up, my poor dog, who I swear is telepathic at times, was highly stressed. She was at my heels panting away and looking worried. I made a point to slow down, speak calmly, and take breaks (when I knew I had the luxury) to get her to relax a bit. The shelters don't officially take pets which is why we packed the car. If we had to go to the shelter our dog would be snug in the car. We might not always have that option but we did this time. Later I heard that people did indeed bring their dogs and cats to the shelter. Honestly, most pet owners I know would never leave their beloved pets behind. I think it is a bit unrealistic to expect people to do so.
My husband arrived back from his duties well before the first wave was due to hit. We would have had plenty of time to get to shelter if we needed to go. We stayed put and watched the waves hit the local area on TV. We were told to stay off the beaches for the rest of the day. I did go down a few blocks later in the afternoon to look at the ocean from a safe distance. It was a weird brown color with many rip tides.
All of this excitement has been a good opportunity for us to evaluate our preparedness. I would give us a C grade at this time. We would be OK given the circumstances we experienced. If we were hit with something like Japan got hit with, which our officials tell us could very well happen, we would be a bit more at risk. That is something we will be working on.
Up until Friday, I had been working hard in the studio. I made a lot of progress on the grisaille, and have been working on some color studies and, ironically given the news, wave studies. I plan to do a lot more plein air when the weather warms up a bit. We have been pretty tired with all the excitement and sleep disruption. Changing over to daylight savings and some rather stormy nights here haven't helped matters. I spent the weekend and today trying to catch up. Tomorrow should find me back in the studio hard at work.
So, I will leave you with the promise of pictures and progress to be posted next week as well as information on art supplies that do not use animal byproducts.
In addition, I urge everyone to take this horrible tragedy and learn what we can from it, including how to be prepared for an emergency. Here is a great (USA government) website to start: http://www.ready.gov/america/getakit/. Googling "emergency preparedness" will also give you a wealth of information. The trick is then to actually get all of this together. I have been making lists based on my own recent experience.
Thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan.
Until next week, -Renee

4 comments:

Theresa said...

Renee, How I envy you the ease of one dog in an emergency situation!
I'm so glad your area escaped anything too horrible. I hear Brookings and Crescent City were not so lucky. This is indeed a wake up call for North America

Renee said...

Theresa, I was thinking of you when I was writing about how no one wanted to leave their pets behind. While I know there are no tsunamis where you are but you have wild fires, as well as earthquakes and volcanoes like the rest of us. You would have quite a task getting all your precious animals to safety but I am sure you can find a way. This is such a great opportunity to get those things in place. It is human nature to put it off and I am as guilty of that as everyone else. I guess we don't like to think it could happen to us.

Theresa said...

Renee, The grim reality is I could never get all the animals out in a quick moving disaster. The dogs yes, maybe the cats including barn cats if I can find them. We do have a plan, but it counts on a lot of things going right and a little precious time. With only one route here we are also at a disadvantage. What the whole mountain needs is an evacuation plan really.

Renee said...

Oh Theresa, I feared as much, let's hope that there is never such a disaster. I remember the area and you are indeed restricted unless you go overland which would have its own challenges. I know that even for us a good evacuation depends on a lot of things going right such as being home and not having to waste precious minutes getting to the house let alone grabbing things. I hate to think of the pets left in houses in the tsunami zone as it was in the middle of the day when the earthquake hit and I am sure many people were at work and couldn't get to their pets.
I guess all we can do is prepare the best we can. I personally have room for improvement and I know I am not alone. I don't want to have such a tragedy and lesson wasted. I know how much you love your animals as it shows in your wonderful blog. Give them all hugs and pats for me!

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