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by Joy Moran

Last Winter, my rural Thurston County neighborhood was without power for a week, following a snow and ice storm. My kids were each trapped at friends’ homes, we had no cell signal and no land line to contact them or my elderly mother.

Luckily, we were able to stay warm and dry, we had food to eat, and managed to dig ourselves out after a couple days. (Mom was safe at my brother’s home.) The power eventually came back, after we had used up most of our propane supply.

What we did not have was a good plan.

This year, I will be more prepared.

At a community meeting a while back, we heard about a program called Map Your Neighborhood, and I realized the need for a larger plan to include our rural neighbors.

“Map Your Neighborhood” (MYN) is a program designed to help neighborhoods prepare for disasters and is offered through local emergency management offices.

When a disaster hits, first responders will not be able to help everyone – and that’s where neighbors can help!

Knowing what to do in the first 60 minutes following the disaster – called the “Golden Hour” – can help save lives, reduce the severity of injuries and minimize the amount of damage that you, your family and neighbors sustain.

MYN will help you to:

  • Learn the “9 Steps to Take Immediately Following a Disaster” to secure your home and to protect your neighborhood. It is hard to think clearly following disaster and these steps will help you to quickly and safely take actions that can minimize damage and protect lives.
  • Identify the Skills and Equipment each neighbor has that would be useful in an effective disaster response. Knowing which neighbors have supplies and skills helps your disaster response be timely, and allows everyone to contribute to the response in a meaningful way.
  • Create a Neighborhood Map identifying the locations of natural gas and propane tanks for quick response if needed.
  • Create a Contact List that helps identify those with specific needs such as elderly, disabled, or children who may be home alone during certain hours of the day.
  • Work together as a team to evaluate your neighborhood during the first hour following a disaster and take the necessary actions.

Contact your local Emergency Management agency about training for Map Your Neighborhood, and get to know your neighbors now, before the next disaster. In Washington State we need to be prepared for volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides, floods, wildfire, wind/snow/ice, and even the occasional tornado.

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