As always send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com. Dave Robinson is the Postmaster in Bandon, Oregon, and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.
I woke this morning to a flood evacuation announcement for Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I don’t live anywhere near Iowa so I wasn’t alarmed, but I could empathize with those folks who are packing their stuff and heading for safety. Eight years ago Cedar Rapids suffered billions in damage from a flood that caught everyone off guard. This time I read stories of folks dismantling their basement furnace and loading it into a trailer. Also a group of volunteers removed the seats in a theater and moved them to higher ground to avoid damage.
With all the flooding in the news these past few weeks it’s time for folks to think about what to do in the event they are required to evacuate.
In my corner of Oregon, we often get flooding with our winter rains, but since the planning folks don’t allow building in the flood zone, it usually doesn’t require evacuation. Ranchers however, graze their livestock on the fertile bottom land and they routinely have a plan to get their critters to safety.
However, if you live in a flood-prone region, it is only wise to have a plan in place for evacuation. The mantra of all preppers is this: Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Prepared. A kit is important. Extra supplies and all manner of pantry items are invaluable. But as important as it is to have a well-stocked kit, it is even more important to have a plan in place. Plans avoid confusion, stress on the family and set the expectation for what everyone will be doing when the time comes. The first order of business is to determine your flood risk. The best resource is your local Department of Emergency Management, usually affiliated with your local Sheriff’s Department or other local governmental authority. You could also ask long-time residents, “Does it ever flood here?” Listen to advice of the old-timers. It’s also a great way to build relationships with your neighbors.
Make an actual plan for each member of the family for every possible scenario. Having the entire family together, at home, when disaster strikes is almost too much to ask for. Make a list of all the “What if?” questions. Where will you meet, how will you get there? What method of communication does everyone have? Do you have an out-of-state contact and does each family member have that information? What if cell phone, internet and landline systems are down? All these questions should be addressed if your plan is going to cover all possible events. For more information, go to www.ready.gov. There are templates to print off for each family member and for a variety of situations.