by Kirby Lindsay“One of the goals of History House is to be a strong community member,” explained John Nordstrand, Operations Director for History House of Greater Seattle. To that end, Nordstrand has begun to assemble a desk in the neighborhood museum that will provide information to anyone - from Fremont or elsewhere – on how to prepare for an emergency.
“I don’t consider myself an expert on this stuff,” Nordstrand admitted. Yet, he answered phones, as a volunteer, at the Red Cross during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina and the December 2008 Seattle snow storm – and he experienced firsthand the benefits of being well-informed. He’s also participates in the Wallingford Community Preparedness pilot program, and has trained to keep a communications hub operational at B.F. Day School in the event of a serious disaster.
Information for Self-Sufficiency
For Nordstrand, the Wallingford pilot program, as well as ones for Magnolia/Queen Anne and West Seattle, have organizers “working with the City to develop disaster preparedness programs for communities to help themselves, rather than relying on city services, who will not be there. No other city in the country has done something like this,” Nordstrand praised, “teaching communities to take care of themselves.”
An emergency is “as much about the kitchen fire as the bridge falling down,” Nordstrand insisted. Preparedness is about knowing what to do, and how to access resources. “You’d be very wise to plan for the City not to be there,” he explained, “look at the city budget, services are going to be cut again.” Some services may no longer exist, while those that remain intact will need to be stretched further. “Let’s see how much we can do to be self-reliant,” he urged, “It’s good planning.”
He knows most people prefer not to think about what could happen, and the past lack of interest in Fremont is “not unique.” Yet, he hopes people will consider what has happened – the snow storm, power outages, snarled traffic, etc – and how easy it can be to prepare. Self-sufficiency – for individuals, residences, neighbors and a community – can be achieved with good information. People can get it at History House, where they will provide information from the Seattle Police Department, Seattle Fire Department, Red Cross, Seattle Office of Emergency Management, King County Office of Emergency Management and the Washington State Military Emergency Management Division. Beyond flyers and pamphlets, Nordstrand will invite visitors to leave questions and, “I will try to find an answer.”
Meetings for Community Self-Sufficiency
History House will also host monthly meetings for those who want to know more, and those who feel they can contribute to planning for emergencies. “The purpose is to find out any networks or groups in Fremont that may want to have a representative,” Nordstrand explained. He’d like to tap into the skills of residents, bicycle groups, Boy Scouts, or companies that want to contribute to the discussion – and the solutions.
“This is not just for when the earthquake comes,” Nordstrand explained, “but for the snow storm, when Fremont became disconnected.” This can be a way to identify where people can get warm, in Fremont, during power outages. Attendees can help identify resources that already exist here, skills available – local doctors, nurses, plumbers, carpenters, etc. – and those who live among us – children, disabled and elderly – who might need help during emergencies.
“There is a desk,” Nordstrand pointed out, at History House, to gather information. “There is a meeting,” he went on, with the first held on September 30th at 4p at History House (790 North 34th St) and continuing on the last Thursday of each month. Finally, he said, “there is a city-coordinated,” effort to see that we will continue to communicate through any disaster. Won’t you come and contribute?
For more information regarding emergency preparedness in Fremont email FremergencyPrep@historyhouse.org
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.