'Big One' article keeps some thinking about preparedness

KING 5's Josh Green reports.

SEATTLE - Some Seattle homeowners are taking steps to know their neighbors and come up with a plan together in case of an earthquake.

This week, about 30 people came to the Phinney Neighborhood Center as the Phinney Hub and Phinney Neighborhood Association started organizing block leaders.

"We are trying to help and protect ourselves and our neighbors," said David Baum as he started the class introduction.

Though some homeowners and groups around the city already had preparing on their minds, a July 20 article from The New Yorker caused some to act. The July article said an earthquake could destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest and put a lot of people here on edge. Some experts believe it was alarmist, but presented a chance to remind people they need to prepare.

"I will totally admit that the New Yorker article scared me enough to really get motivated," Betsy Brown said. "I've gotten a lot more prepared at our house. We've gotten our water supplies together and other emergency supplies."

Matt Auflick, public education and outreach coordinator for Seattle's Office of Emergency Management, said there has been an obvious increase in awareness since the article came out.

"We refer to it as a teachable moment," Auflick said. "The article peaked interest."

That's obvious when you look at requests for city SNAP seminars. It stands for Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare. The city also offers an earthquake home retrofit class, which gives guidance on what homeowners can do to seismically secure their home to its foundation. Classes in September and October have filled up. There's one open in November. Click here to learn more.

This week's class in Phinney takes another step.

"This is really taking that to the next level," Auflick said. "This is a group of dedicated community members that are bringing more people in so they can talk about how they can more efficiently work together."

Kelly Kasper, a disaster preparedness consultant, was one of those in the class.

"I'm ... impressed that people are taking action to actually do something about it," she said. "It really does start at the individual level and then the next step is to go to your neighbors."

These neighborhoods will also look to homeowners like Kari Aguila. She has a masters degree in geology and evacuated from Houston during Hurricane Rita.

"I didn't know how to board up my windows. I didn't know what to take with me in an evacuation," she said.

Now her family, who are campers, keeps a few week's supply of food on hand in case of emergency.

"I don't think people need to be scared living in any of the places in the world," she said. "You need to be prepared for whatever you're going to face."


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