Neighborhoods across Washington are coming together to develop their own emergency plans for the Great Cascadia Earthquake that is expected to hit in our lifetime. Residents on the Key Peninsula are starting to developing an action plan.
Curt Scott and longtime Key Peninsula resident Hugh McMillan are part of a group called The Peninsula Emergency Preparedness Coalition or PEP-C.
“This thing can hit us right now, right this instant and we’ve got to be prepared to take care of ourselves and our neighbors,” said McMillan.
On the Key Peninsula, the community relies on several bridges to connect to larger urban areas. While Scott is not a structural engineer, he knows help could be a long time coming if they’re cut off.
“There’s a bridge that represents a lifeline down the south end of the Key Peninsula, so if the bridge goes down or it becomes unsafe, we’re not going to be able to use it," said McMillan.
Scott has a trunk filled with emergency supplies needed for isolation. But what he says he doesn’t have is the full attention of his neighborhood.
“I’ve got water supply, I’ve got food supply, but that doesn’t help my neighborhood. We’ve got to get people in the neighborhood engaged. That’s the problem," he said.
Scott and McMillian are working with Pierce County Emergency Management to develop a neighborhood team.
“We need the citizens of Pierce County to be prepared We’ve got about 300 of them all over the county, and they’re groups that have gotten together with their neighbors.”
They get a backpack of supplies and training from the county to develop a survival plan. Scott and McMillan want to model their neighborhood team efforts after their neighbors on Fox Island
Neighbors there have turned an old schoolhouse into a makeshift command center. Doug Nelson, a 5th generation Fox Island resident, explained part of their plans.
“Post-disaster, the first thing we’ll do is send out our citizen patrol members. Each one will take a different route,” he said.
They’ve built an emergency operation center in the basement of the old schoolhouse with a communication network of people using ham radios.
“I’ve got a battery backup radio at my place, and all these people are radio operators in case something were to happen to this room,” he said.
Scott and McMillan hope the passion for preparation will bleed over onto their turf.
“You don’t overcome; you prepare to be ready, to accept what’s going to happen and take care of your families and your neighbors,” said McMillan.
The Key Peninsula Emergency Preparedness Coalition (PEC-C) will hold an emergency preparedness fair on Saturday, September 30 at Gig Harbor High School from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be emergency management staff on hand to provide first aid training, local ham radio groups, and information about earthquake measuring and alerting systems.
Join KING 5’s Disaster Preparedness Facebook group and learn how you and your community can get ready for when disaster strikes.