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Yikes

Day 3 of the FEMA-sponsored Integrated Emergency Management Course

May 1, 2013


(Nicole Montesano/N-R Reporter)   FEMA instructor Haven Simmons, playing the part of a television anchor, was assuring viewers the station would do its best to keep them apprised of the situation following a major earthquake, when an aftershock interrupted, taking his broadcast off the air.

Meanwhile, at the Emergency Operations Center set up in the McMinnville Police Department, staff were issuing department reports.

Resources were running low, Logistics warned. However, the Finance section said that it was working on contracts with local companies, obtaining additional heavy trucks from Baker Rock Resources, while Evergreen Aviation had agreed to supply helicopters and fuel.

Calls were coming in from around the county, the Liason section said, reporting school closures, and power lines down on Lafayette Avenue. Linfield College was asking for food supplies to care for 2,000 students, and Newberg was seeking assistance in setting up a shelter for some 250 to 500 residents. The department was working on setting up staging areas for other agencies coming in to assist. A joint information center had to be moved from City Hall to the fire department, Public Information Officer Sarah Bates told the group, and reminded them to keep her informed, so she could get timely information out to the public.

It's all playacting, for now; training city and county workers in how to respond to a major disaster, and reviewing the multiple issues that have to be considered. The safety section, for instance, was reminding field crews to make sure buildings were inspected for safety, before entering.

But county Assistant Emergency Manager Sue Lamb said that everyone needs to be planning for how those issues will be handled, when a real emergency hits. Grocery stores and restaurants will be closed, she noted, so food won't be available to buy. Businesses need to plan ahead for how they might survive a lengthy closure, and families consider how they will feed and shelter themselves and their pets, possibly for weeks. Farmers will have livestock to care for.

“Everybody needs to think about it, because there is nobody who is not affected by something like this,” Lamb said.

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