by Eric Holdeman, CEM
While fires, floods, storms, and earthquakes seem to take place thousands of miles away, it is my job as King County's new Emergency Manager to give you a wake-up call. A disaster, especially a devastating earthquake, is possible in our lifetimes here in King County, and we'd better get prepared as individuals, families, and communities.
King County government is doing its part to protect and serve citizens. The Executive and County Council have taken an active interest in emergency preparedness by moving the county's Emergency Operations Center from the seismically unstable County Courthouse to a remodeled facility outside the downtown core. Increased funding for emergency preparedness is needed to further enhance our regional preparedness. But in comparison with the potential devastation of catastrophic earthquake, these measures are like baling water with a thimble.
Citizens are calling on their governments at all levels to reduce spending and taxes. To do this and still be prepared for disasters requires all of us to accept responsibility for our personal and community preparedness. You don't fasten your seat belt every time you get in your car because you think you are going to be in an accident, but because you know the unexpected could happen. Disaster preparedness is like fastening your seat belt: It is not a one-time event, but a way of life--because you know it can happen.
Start getting prepared now by having a disaster supply kit at home and in your auto. Take measures to prevent non-structural damage to your home (secure your water heater and bookshelves to the wall, for example). Find out how prepared your children's schools are to care for them if you can't get home from work.
Does your business have a disaster recovery plan? Your continued employment following a disaster may depend on how well-prepared your employer is to survive operations following a disaster.
Money is always an issue, and governments work to find a balance. But government alone can never make this region fully prepared. It takes individuals, families, and communities working in concert with one another to be truly prepared for disasters. If you have questions on how to be better prepared, request information from your city emergency management office, or call King County's Office of Emergency Management at (206) 296-3830. These professionals are ready to provide you with the information necessary to give you the peace of mind that comes with being prepared.