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VashonBePrepared annual meeting: landslides

Nov 17

Written by:
11/17/2014 7:03 PM  RssIcon

The evening of October 29th found many folks from the community at McMurray for the annual meeting of Vashon Be Prepared, which is the umbrella organization for multiple emergency preparedness organizations on Vashon-Maury. It was great to see some of you there, and meet some new faces in local emergency preparedness! This year the topic was landslides, and the program was varied. 

The Shaw family, who lost their cabin at Oso, sang a song written by Seri Ann Shaw about the memories of that place, reminding us why it's worth taking steps to prepare. Dr. Tom DeVries, a geologist and retired teacher from Vashon High School, gave us some geological perspectives on slide risk based on county maps that show local slide activity over time. He shared online resources for identifying and mitigating landslide risks. Steve Kacinski of Ellisport Engineering talked about geotechnical studies and various types of mitigation projects. Shelby Edwards, a global disaster recovery strategist at Our Daily Toast, empowered us with actions to take to protect our homes and families before an incident. 

Finally, Vashon Island Fire and Rescue (VIFR) Assistant Chief Brown outlined the capabilities and limitations of professional responders during and after an incident. He noted the tremendous importance of volunteers in supporting the life safety and property protection efforts of the limited number of fire and police personnel. He reminded us that having our household and neighborhood more prepared means fewer folks in need of assistance from the stretched professional first responders. He pointed out that Vashon is exemplary in community emergency preparedness: Vashon-Maury features one person in 40 with training in some form of emergency response (CERT, first aid, driving tenders for VIFR, or working at the EOC, for instance). By comparison, in Seattle the ratio of trained community members is just about one in 500. You and your NERO are a key part of an exemplary preparedness community!

The high point of the evening was hearing Joe Ulatoski, who is considered the founder of emergency preparedness on Vashon-Maury, relate how Catherine and Michael Cochrane accepted his challenge to re-activate the now-flourishing CERT training program. In the past decade, Michael and Catherine have trained over 250 CERT team members. A large number of those trainees attended the meeting in the green CERT sweatshirts to cheer and clap as Rick Wallace, the indefatigable president of Vashon Be Prepared, presented the Cochranes with the Joseph Ulatoski Leadership Award. It's worth noting that a number of CERT members also organize NEROs in their neighborhoods - thanks!

It's refreshing to pause and celebrate accomplishments, but there's still plenty of work to do. Lots of folks attending various community events have expressed fresh interest in starting or re-activating their NEROs. Thank you all for taking initiative to make your families and neighborhoods more resilient and comfortable after a major incident. I look forward to working with you and your neighbors in the coming months.

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