June 7-10, 2016
Planning by Parishes and Communities
This June parishes and their communities have an excellent opportunity to prepare for an earthquake. This action will coincide with an exercise titled “Cascadia Rising” June 7 to 10. The states of Oregon (Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM)) and Washington, and Province of British Columbia jointly will participate. While the Diocese does not yet know what role we may play, we will be guided by our membership in the Oregon Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (ORVOAD). Back in December, we received daily updates of potential needs during the extensive flooding. appraisal of were apprised daily of potential assistance required as a result of the flooding.
What should the preparation involve? The assumptions are that a major quake and tsunami will isolate coastal communities both from each other and the interior. Communications likely will not be available; medical services limited or none and resting solely on the communities. Moreover, even resources from the state will be so strained that communities probably will receive limited aid. Local emergency services, e.g., fire, police, ambulances, and doctors will be overwhelmed. Some of their members may themselves be casualties. Although the exercise is 5 days, an actual event may affect leave areas on their own for weeks.
Preparedness can not rest solely on community or county emergency services agencies. They must know what resources are available and who can provide them. Resources include medical, housing, and feeding at a minimum. At some point wholesale evacuations also may be required. Who will organize and coordinate them? Where will people go? These and other questions need to be resolved long before their need arises.
Participants in local planning, in addition to the emergency responders should come from many organizations, important among them are faith-based groups such as our parishes. Perhaps the most critical role to fill will be that of communications. Except for ham radio operators, there may be no other media available. When such planning has been completed, documentation should be shared with any Community/County Organizations Active in Disasters (COAD) (not all counties or communities have these organizations) and with the State or Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) in Salem.
The Diocesan Disaster Preparedness Program is urging each parish to participate, especially in helping identify resources that can be employed (from parish facilities to individual skills). If the community has not started comprehensive planning, the parish can encourage its conduct. Additional, and as was discovered during the December flooding, coordination of aid requires that all needs that there be a single representative for the community, e.g. COAD, and that the information flows upward. As needs are known, and will be through ORVOAD, the Diocese will also know them. There might be pressure to short-circuit the process of receiving aid. If different local organizations are requesting aid, scarce resources may be misdirected or taken from another pressing need.
As more information becomes available, it will be shared both through ORVOAD and through a separate link in the Diocesan Preparedness site. In turn, the Diocese welcomes information from parishes regarding their community and county efforts.
Currently, extensive material is available at the Oregon Emergency Management site: http://www.oregonaresraces.org/?page_id=559. Also, available on the Diocesan Disaster Preparedness site is a PowerPoint presentation which should provide good information about the exercise.
Feel free to use this Power Point presentation: Cascadia Rising Presentation-Slides-11-20-2014