Written by Chuck Wallace, Deputy Director of the Grays Harbor County Emergency Management Agency
Montesano, WA - I was called by my brother @ 8:30am PST today and was told that he and his family are fine. He has attempted to call our parents but power is out to much of the area. He claims there are hundreds of power company vehicles in the area working to restore power.
He tried to enter Atlantic City yesterday and this morning to physically check on our parents, but was refused entry because he had no identification stating he was a resident of the City.
!!! Received a phone call at 10:45am PST today from mother stating power had been restored to her building and her phone finally worked. The generator in their building did function but only for emergency lighting. The only area to be heated in the building was in the community room where most of the residents huddled and played cards etc. My parents were able to eat food my brother had given to them the day before the storm.
My parents are as defiant as ever now of major storms. After living through Hurricane Sandy’s direct hit (even though it was only a category 1 storm) it will be much harder to get them to evacuate out of the area should a more powerful storm threaten them. All I can think of are the people who lived through major storms in New Orleans prior to Katrina.
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I read transcripts from New Orleans families begging to be rescued, even to the point of tying themselves in crawl spaces of their homes threatened by rising water and tremendous sustained winds and hurricane gusts. I can show my parents pictures of the aftermath of Katrina, but I believe they have now become overconfident in their ability to withstand anything nature can muster.
Preparedness will be a constant battle for not only my family but for all people. I believe there are a great deal of people who are overconfident in their ability to withstand any severe weather and disaster event. Many continue to rely on the government to send the National Guard to rescue them if it is bad enough. Hurricane Sandy impacted tens of millions of people in numerous states. Luckily, the new and improved FEMA and their enhanced deployment tactics and communication between the Governors and the White House were able to respond pre-event and now following. We will read of the great strides FEMA has made in the past few years and they are tremendous, yet while you are feeling confident that FEMA will be coming to your aid during your specific disaster, remember the citizens of New Jersey. Thousands had to be rescued and many have lost everything from the hurricane. Nobody wants to identify with them. Their plight could envelope many of us in a future coastal storm, flood or earthquake.
The hype of Hurricane Sandy will eventually pass. The media will stop reporting on the recovery efforts and in time we’ll forget about Hurricane Sandy only to be remembered as a future trivia question. What we all need to constantly remember, is the physical, emotional and psychological toll a disaster provides for everyone; the directly impacted and their extended families throughout the country. We must prepare for everything.