People here on the West Coast have read the news and watched television lately transfixed by the images of Superstorm Sandy’s trail of devastation on the East Coast, especially along battered coastlines in New York and New Jersey, but laying waste to other parts of the eastern seaboard as well.
One of biggest storms to ever descend on our country, Sandy has led to lives lost, caused severe flooding in cities and towns, littered streets with cars, debris and fallen trees, razed homes and businesses to the ground, forced massive power outages and displaced many people left to wonder how they will rebuild.
Although hurricanes and storms on Sandy’s scale will never bring the same kind of destruction in Washington state, the likelihood of other major natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis is very real. Sandy is a warning beacon to the importance of disaster preparedness for local governments like Marysville and its citizens.
The city of Marysville is proactive about preparedness; we urge residents to do the same.
At the Nov. 5 Work Session, the City Council and I participated in required training under the National Incident Management System coordinated through FEMA and presented Monday by the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management. While most emergency situations are handled locally, when there’s a major incident, help may be needed from other jurisdictions, and/or the state and federal government. NIMS was developed so responders from different jurisdictions and disciplines can work together to better respond to natural disasters and emergencies, including acts of terrorism. NIMS benefits include a unified approach to incident management; standard command and management structures; and emphasis on preparedness, mutual aid and resource management.
Marysville has been active in NIMS for several years and is NIMS compliant. Police and Fire first responders, already familiar with and trained to respond to various hazards, as well as directors, supervisors and key staff have gone through extensive NIMS training online and in the classroom to be better prepared, including classes applicable to their area of expertise. The city has also conducted periodic training and tabletop exercises to stay fine-tuned.
Additionally, the city has an updated Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP), as well as a Snow and Ice Response Plan, two documents that put your government in the best position to be ready in the event of either a cold weather-related situation on a limited scale, or a larger incident that takes on emergency response proportions. It’s important to be ready for anything and capable of adapting to the emergency.
Marysville and north Snohomish County are in a unique situation in that if a major disaster such as an earthquake were to take out local bridges to the south and north of Marysville, we would be cut off from the more urbanized areas and key supply routes.
Early planning and preparation can make all the difference in terms of protecting lives and property. That is true for your local government, and for residents, also.
What can you do? To borrow words from FEMA’s Ready.gov website: be prepared, plan and stay informed.
In the event of a major disaster, the first 72 hours are supposed to be the hardest. City resources may be overwhelmed and it could take that long before anyone can get into neighborhoods, and several days before vital services are restored. You need to be well-stocked with some necessary supplies to last the first 72 hours, including clean containers for water and non-perishable food to last 3-5 days, first aid kit, flashlights and batteries, and an emergency car kit, just for starters. Have a family disaster plan and supplies kit handy.
There are many helpful online resources including the city, county DEM, state, FEMA and Ready.gov and American Red Cross websites that can provide you with information to prepare you in advance of a disaster. Information is also specific to care of pets, aiding family members with special needs, and senior citizens.
If you want be become more informed and compare notes with neighbors and fellow residents, we invite you to save the date and attend our next free Marysville University class, “Emergency Preparedness: Don’t Let Mother Nature Catch You Unprepared,” scheduled for 6:30-9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 at City Hall. We’ll have expert speakers from the city, DEM and others.
Of course being prepared is everyone’s responsibility. In the event of a major catastrophe, it can’t be expected that authorities will be able to do everything. That’s why it’s a good idea to have emergency supplies, an emergency preparedness plan for your own family, and to be better informed so that if the unthinkable ever happens, you’ll be as ready as possible.
Mayor Jon Nehring can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-363-8091.