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Neighbors urged to care for each other when bad weather hits

During the snow and ice storm of December 2008, residents ran out of everything from prescription medicine to toilet paper.

To make it easier for neighbors to take care of each other, and to encourage better disaster preparedness, Gresham has launched a new program called Neighborhood Ready.

It involves 'resource mapping' the block you live on. Who has skills handy during an emergency or disaster, like first-aid training? Who belongs to a 4-wheel drive club? Who is a bargain shopper with a pantry chock-full of canned goods?

The mapping process also includes identifying your neighbors' special needs. Who is on a limited supply of prescription medicine? Who has a baby and might need formula and diapers? Who has a bad back and can't shovel his or her sidewalk?

Kelle Landavazo, community engagement coordinator for Gresham's Office of Neighborhoods and Community Engagements, said the program mirrors what city leaders and emergency workers noticed during the 2008 storm.

'Those with relationships and a network fared much better,' she said. 'They could depend on one another, especially those vulnerable people.'

Landavazo would love to see more apartment complexes take part in the program. Not only are they sometimes more likely to house elderly residents or those with young children, but apartment dwellers often don't think of their complex as a community.

'It is not rocket science. It just takes little bit of effort,' Landavazo said. 'When we really need it to work, it makes a difference.'

And as always, it's important for residents to have their own emergency supply of food, water and medicine.

'The thing we keep trying to convey to people is that it is very, very important for people to be prepared in their own home,' said Todd Felix, emergency management specialist for the city of Gresham. 'Any time you are prepared, that's one less 911 call.'

For details on the program, contact Landavazo at 503-618-2567.