A Mill Creek group says getting to know your neighbors could make a big difference if the “big one” hits.
“We know the woman who lives in this house and we know the couple who lives in that house,” Lynn Ogden said as he shows KING 5 around the Huckleberry neighborhood in Mill Creek.
He and his wife have lived there for almost 30 years, and for the past five they have been a part of Map Your Neighborhood, a planning and preparedness program where neighbors help neighbors.
“This could truly be a matter of life and death. The difference between surviving and not surviving is having a plan,” Mill Creek Police Chaplain Nick Lewis said.
Lewis started the program in his neighborhood five years ago and has been working with the city for the past two years to bring it to other areas.
So far, he has reached more than 500 people and helped them get to know each other, each other’s special needs, what tools their neighbors have, and to come up with a gathering place – just in case.
“If we have the Cascadian subduction zone earthquake that we've heard about so much recently, do you turn your gas off? That's a question I asked at every meeting, and 70 percent of people in that group easily say, 'Yes, I'll turn the gas off immediately.' That's not a good answer. The answer is you turn it off if you need to turn it off,” Lewis said, explaining one of the preparedness techniques he teaches in his meetings.
Lewis says a big event could knock out land lines, cell towers, and gas lines for weeks.
“And the only people who are going to be able to help us or help me are going to be our neighbors,” Ogden said.
As a result, neighbors who prepare together may even party together.
“We know each other and we talk,” Ogden said, laughing. “It's like the little old lady that fell and can't get up. If someone's going to come, it's going to make you feel a lot better.”
Lewis says it also helps to know who belongs in the neighborhood.
“As we know in the event of a disaster, we become vulnerable to people who have less than honorable intentions. I'm trying to be kind when I say that. Looters, yes,” Lewis said.
Lewis’ next neighborhood meeting is on April 5. Meetings are not limited to Mill Creek residents. For more information, visit the city's website.