Are You Ready for the Big One?
Our Missions Volunteer Coordinator, Becky Platt, and I attended an information briefing at the Oregon Department of Emergency Management on January 19 for the upcoming Cascadia Rising Exercise, scheduled for June 6-10. This exercise is designed to step through how current thinking envisions the first 4 days following a major earthquake to develop. The following summary is offered:
- Participants: British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, FEMA, and the Department of Defense. California has chosen to not participate.
- Scope: All levels of government emergency management agencies, primarily as a table top exercise for key personnel to check and validate communications and coordination methods and functions. The DoD will conduct 4 separate exercises in parallel, primarily to gauge the ability to respond to a disaster of this expected magnitude. We may see increased military transport aircraft and ground activity in and around local airports viewed as primary relief sites.
- Actions that have the potential to touch our local churches: May involve local emergency management phoning to check on the possibility and availability to act as an emergency shelter. Any local church receiving a call should be aware of the purpose of this exercise. It is unlikely in this exercise, but always possible, that there could be a call for some kind of volunteer support, but I would only expect this from local emergency managers who are exceptionally well organized. For many, this is an additional duty, so they will be rushing to catch up in this 4 days. Regardless, this period could offer a good opportunity for all local churches to review or develop their emergency plans and contact information.
Some things for you and your church to consider:
- We have churches at risk for tsunami and flooding…how can they continue to serve if they are among the casualties? Emotional and spiritual care would be a major need for disaster survivors and emergency response and disaster recovery persons, an effort that should be expected to last for several years. Do you have a ministry team trained to provide support like this?
- Does your church have an individual or team you can count on to respond in an emergency? Have you reviewed or created your personal and church disaster plan? This could be an ideal opportunity to review and update what you have. This review should include an inventory of supplies set aside for disaster. The old recommendation was to have three days of supplies, but Hurricane Katrina taught us we need at least two weeks to support our families and those who may seek shelter with us.