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Gresham readies citizens for disaster scenario

Do you know to do in the case of disaster?

Even if you think you do, there’s always new information to be learned. The city is holding a listening session from 5:45 to 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, March 29, at City Council Chambers, 1333 N.W. Eastman Parkway, with the topic of emergency preparedness to help the community prepare for natural disasters.

The session will be hosted by Council President Mario Palmero and Councilors Jerry Hinton and Lori Stegmann.

Free refreshments, interpreters and child care will be available.

“We’ll be listening to the citizens about what they want and what their expectations are for city government in terms of natural disaster,” Hinton said.

In Hinton’s own home, he has a robust system in place for dealing with disaster. He has enough food in storage for a year, a separate generator to produce energy for the whole house, a big water barrel in storage and access to a well for drinking water and short term items like a 24-hour and a 72-hour emergency kit that could be quickly thrown in a car to take on the road.

Hinton figures the less his family needs to depend on others for help, the more there is for the people who need it.

Stegmann, who proposed the idea of listening sessions about three years ago, said the recent media attention on the possibility of a earthquake devastating the Pacific Northwest made disaster preparedness a timely topic.

An 8.9 quake, like the one in Japan in 2011, is only possible in subduction zones, according to the city’s disaster preparedness information. The only U.S. subduction zones in the U.S. are in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.

“I think about an earthquake and I think, ‘Oh, I can’t get water, but I don’t think in terms of I can’t drive because the roads will be literally destroyed or washed away, so that just drove it home even more that people need to make sure at a minimum that they have water,” Stegmann said. “People need to think about that they could be completely isolated.”

In her own home, Stegmann keeps a few cases of water, but admits she is one of those that procrastinates in getting an emergency kit in order.

“I need to go through my emergency kit and update it. It does always seem like such a chore, but it’s important because no one ever thinks it’s going to happen to them,” she said.