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Firefighter presents 'lessons learned' from hurricanes


Milwaukie Mayor Jeremy Ferguson’s next Emergency Forum will focus on “lessons learned” from Katrina and Rita with Gregg Ramirez, emergency manager for Clackamas Fire District No. 1, who will speak about his personal experiences with the hurricanes.

Ferguson hosts the forum from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the Milwaukie Center, 5440 S.E. Kellogg Creek Drive, Milwaukie.

RamirezAs a member of the National Guard, Ramirez was called to duty to assist with the recovery effort. He joined Clackamas Fire’s emergency crew in March.

Ramirez was attending an emergency-management conference in New Orleans when the order to evacuate was given just ahead of the storm. He returned home only to find his unit had been called to duty to assist with the recovery effort.

Besides a discussion of the rescue efforts and activities, his presentation will examine the party atmosphere that preceded the storms and the despair of the survivors who experienced Katrina’s wrath firsthand.

Despite the heroic efforts of so many, he saw the response fall far short of being adequate, and says the hurricanes obligate us to re-examine how we are organized to address catastrophic events.

Since the storm, he’s interviewed many people who have survived the storms and also people who were preparing for Hurricane Sandy, which recently hit the East Coast. He’s been frustrated by the public’s reliance on government, and by people’s complacency in developing emergency kits.

“The biggest lesson that I learned is that the population, no matter how hard we try, will do little or nothing to prepare for the inevitable disaster event,” Ramirez said. “They’re going to show up with their clothes on their backs and say, ‘Take care of me.’ ”