Story, Photos & Video by Don Backman
What do these two have to do with emergency preparations?
Tillamook County is no stranger to disasters. In the past 25 odd years, the county has seen tornadoes touch down, severe windstorms causing extensive damage and creating long duration power outages (more than a week in some areas) flooding, and wildfire evacuations. Underlying all of this, there is the prediction of a catastrophic 9.0 or larger earthquake and devastating tsunamis created by the Cascadia Subduction zone just offshore. Tillamook County has proven time and again that it is resilient. However, the scale of some of these events require additional preparation.
On April 15th, the Rockaway Beach Emergency Management and Preparedness group addressed the need to prepare by putting on a Preparedness Fair in the lower gym at Neah-Kah-Nie high school. A packed parking lot indicated that this was a busy event.
According to Letty Buchanan, the Emergency Preparedness official for Rockaway Beach, “About thirteen groups were represented from around North County.” This included emergency volunteer groups such as the Emergency Volunteer Corps of Nehalem Bay, the Tillamook County Emergency Medical Corps, Nehalem Bay Fire & Rescue, Rockaway Beach Fire & Rescue, a representative from Tillamook Bay Community College, the American Red Cross, and PUD, among others. “I just made calls to people, and they were excited to come and have a table. The radio station was willing to do a free ad and put it on the air.”
Tables were set up around three sides and in the center of the gymnasium. A wide variety of information was available for every degree of disaster, ranging from handouts on how to purify water for drinking, how to manage sanitation with emergency toilet buckets labeled PEE, POO, and how to create washing stations. Lists were available of emergency supplies and methods of obtaining them.
Randy Thorpe, Tillamook County Emergency Manager, attended. “I think this is a great opportunity for people to come in and meet the different groups,” he commented. “It’s a great opportunity to get some ideas, and to see that there is a lot of help out there.”
Nancy Lanyon, an emergency volunteer with Rockaway Beach Emergency Management and Preparedness, stood behind a row of tables covered with many different publications. “Did you notice that groups all up and down the coast are getting back up to speed?” she asked. Covid caused many groups to reduce their activities or shut down, and now that things have opened back up they are getting re-started. She wanted to mention that “Chief Hesse (Rockaway Beach Fire & Rescue Chief) is awesome. He has been so helpful in training and increasing awareness.”
Velda Handler, Coordinator for the Emergency Medical Corps, was one of a group attending a table display at the booth with the Emergency Volunteer Corps of Nehalem Bay. Handler explained that the Emergency Medical Corp has members throughout the county, and they get active when an event threatens to overwhelm the medical community. “Part of our mission is to help with education and respond to emergencies. Anyone interested in joining can contact the Emergency Volunteer Corps of Nehalem Bay (EVCNB) by going to their webpage and sending an email.” Members of the medical corps also assisted with the Covid response in the county.
“People can come to these events and see that they are not alone,” Randy Thorpe explained. “There is a lot of help available. They just need to reach out.”
You can help in your community by contacting and volunteering with your local emergency volunteer group. There are many ways to take part. Each community needs neighborhood captains. These are people who simply talk with their neighbors and help them organize and learn how to prepare. There is a guide to help with this. Knowing that your neighbor is a carpenter, in construction, a retired nurse, or elderly and medically fragile can be very helpful. Those living in an inundation area may work with other neighborhoods above the zone to build a shed or in some way store supplies.
Some of the areas of need:
- Medically trained volunteers
- Radio communication
- Social media experts
- CERT training
- Volunteers willing to help organize events
- Volunteers willing to help man emergency shelters in long term power outages
The groups can often be reached by asking your local city hall or local emergency services which can point you in the right directions. Many of the groups have an online presence such as a website, Facebook page, or Instagram account.
South Tillamook County Emergency Volunteer Corps (STEVC), website https://southtillamookcountyevc.org/
Emergency Volunteer Corps of Nehalem Bay (EVCNB), website: https://evcnb.org/disaster-preparedness
Rockaway Beach Emergency Management and Preparedness: FaceBook Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/826663934481065
Bay City Emergency Volunteers (BCEV); Website: www.bcevor.org, Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BCEVOR
Cape Meares Community Association: https://capemeares.org/emergency-preparedness/
Nedonna Beach Neighborhood Association: https://www.nedonnabeach.org/