Question of the Week

May 12, 2003

Disasters can come with little or no warning. If we are prepared for what might happen, then the unexpected can come as less of a surprise. Information and preparation can provide strength (and something to fall back on) when the unexpected happens.

This past week, Tornados struck much of the Midwest:

"OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - President Bush authorized the release of federal money for Oklahoma on Saturday after a second tornado in two days hit the Oklahoma City area. Friday's tornado moved 75 miles, ascending back into the clouds and descending to the ground to damage hundreds of buildings one day after a separate twister damaged thousands of homes
immediately south of the city."

And there were snow storms in the Rockies:

"Heavy snow falls in Colorado and Wyoming
Saturday, May 10, 2003 Posted: 9:41 PM EDT (0141 GMT)
DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- A spring storm dumped several inches of heavy, wet snow on Wyoming and Colorado Saturday, snapping branches of trees that had bloomed for the season and causing several accidents on slick roads. Up to a foot of snow fell in the Colorado Rockies, and more snow was expected, according to the National Weather Service....The downed or sagging branches caused power outages that affected some 35,000 customers at one point in Colorado, said Xcel Energy spokesman Mark Stutz. More than 10,000 customers in the Denver area and Boulder were without power Saturday evening, according to Xcel."

Summer will be here soon, and with it comes the fire season:
2003 Fire Season Outlook Valid: Issue Date: March  July
March 10, 2003 ...
The fire danger across some areas of the Southwest Area is expected to be above average during an overall normal length fire season. This is due to continuing long-term drought, a better than even chance for above normal temperatures, low amounts of winter snowpack at the mid-elevations, and widespread vegetative dieback due to insect and disease damage."
U. S. Forest Service

Around the county, 911 emergency response teams are preparing for disasters people might intentionally cause:

"A national bioterrorism drill for hundreds of firefighters, police and other emergency workers began Monday with a mock explosion of a radioactive 'dirty bomb' in a car in a Seattle industrial lot. Meanwhile, volunteers at Pacific Lutheran University near Tacoma, about 40 miles to the south, simulated a second, simultaneous attack. The attack involved a car bomb as well, but the scenario also called for a terrorist to run into a campus building and take hostages. The five-day drill, combining the Seattle disaster with a mock bioterrorist attack in Chicago, is aimed at testing the readiness of local, state and federal authorities. It is the nation's first large-scale counterterrorism exercise since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The idea, said Mayor Greg Nickels, is for regional and national agencies to see where strengths and weaknesses lie."

With earthquakes, hurricanes, other natural disasters, and unknown man-made possibilities, a person could be paranoid. With all we know about the possibilities (and the chances of them actually happening where we live), a person can be (and should be) prepared. FEMA wants you to know what to do. They want everyone to know what to do and how to prepare, and they have made the resources available to all.

"Are You Ready? A Guide to Citizen Preparedness brings together facts on disaster survival techniques, disaster-specific information, and how to prepare for and respond to both natural and man-made disasters. As the most comprehensive guide to personal emergency preparedness published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Are You Ready? will help individuals prepare themselves and their families for disasters." (From this site you can download information for specific disasters, or access all of the information, all at no cost.)

Question of the Week:
What disasters might affect your area of the country? How might these affect you, personally? How should people in your region prepare? How might this be the same as (or different from) how others across the country should prepare? How can knowing what to do--and having what you need--help reduce stress and offer strength at a difficult time?

Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

[email protected]
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum

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