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Map Your Neighborhood; prepare for ‘the Big One’

 

Last updated 10/27/2016 at Noon



Although the big Northwest storm over the Oct. 14-16 weekend fizzled, a lot of people were ready for worse.

Residents had the advantage of warnings from a trove of meteorologists, so they stocked up on food and water, tied down or stored away the patio furniture, and otherwise battened down the hatches.

The next disaster – perhaps the Cascadia earthquake? – might come without warning.

But the Hubers and their neighbors will be ready. That’s because they recently trained in a program called “Map Your Neighborhood,” a disaster preparedness program that partners with similar programs in 43 states.

The MYN program recognizes that during an emergency “your most immediate source of help is the neighbors living around you.”

MYN aims to guide residents to partner and coordinate with their neighbors on the various steps to take in the wake of a disaster.

First responders and other government officials regularly warn citizens to prepare to be self-sustaining for anywhere from three days to several weeks, depending on the severity of the disaster.

Teri Huber said she learned about MYN from a friend in Bellevue, was intrigued, and looked into the program.

“I thought this looks terrific,” Huber said. “We’re always looking for ways to connect with our neighbors, but also prepare in case of a disaster.”

She said MYN provided that opportunity. She obtained a DVD that is produced in a play-pause-discuss format, promotional fliers that she took around the neighborhood, and set up a meeting.

“It’s very positive,” she said of the presentation. “Not doom and gloom.”

Nine people attended that first meeting – fewer than the Hubers had hoped for, but it was a start.

The Hubers and their neighbors, in a neighborhood up the hill from Olympic View Middle School off of 76th Street Southwest, now know which of them knows CPR, who has a chainsaw, what are the names of the children and pets, and other details that could be valuable should that disaster strike.

They agreed on a house to meet at and take anyone who’s been injured, but after they had taken care of their own needs, such as shutting off gas lines.

“We’ll put on our hard hats and sturdy shoes, go to that home’s driveway, then split up to see who needs help,” Teri Huber said.

Even if the next emergency isn’t “the Big One,” the Hubers and their neighbors will be in good shape to meet the challenge, whether it’s an extended power outage or a downed tree.

The MYN program, explained in a 90-minute neighborhood meeting, is a nine-step Response Plan that teaches what to do to save lives, reduce the severity of injuries, reduce emotional distress, and decrease property and environmental damage.

Taking an inventory of people’s skills and equipment ensures neighbors can react quickly and appropriately.

A neighborhood map is created that pinpoints the locations of natural gas meters and propane tanks.

A contact list identifies who in your neighborhood may have specific needs, including those who are elderly, have disabilities or are home alone.

Mukilteo Fire Chief Chris Alexander commended residents who participate in the MYN program.

“If they want to take the initiative, that would be great,” he said.

Meanwhile, Alexander said, he and his staff are working on developing similar programs that they’ll introduce next year.

Those will include Map Your Neighborhood training and introduction to Community Emergency Response Teams, he said. If all goes according to plan, they hope to introduce “full blown” CERT training classes by next fall.

The goal of the CERT program is to train citizens to help themselves and others until professional help can get to them.

CERT students learn how to put out small fires, provide first aid, perform search and rescue, and other needed skills.

Meanwhile, there’s no need to wait. MYN has a proven track record. Following the Nisqually earthquake in 2001, for example, 92 percent of the 460 organized neighborhoods in Seattle reported they were able to respond in a timely and organized manner to their neighbors’ needs.

To learn more, go to mil.wa.gov/uploads/pdf/myn-overview.pdf or https://snohomishcountywa.gov/2843/map-your-neighborhood.

 

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