I figured out one reason families were separated during the chaos in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Over Labor Day weekend, my own...
I figured out one reason families were separated during the chaos in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Over Labor Day weekend, my own family couldn’t agree on how to handle imaginary crisis scenarios. Heck, we couldn’t even agree on a starting time for a get-together that included a crab feed and an overnight cousins camp-in at our Eastside home.
The plight of Hurricane Katrina evacuees kept me awake several nights. I wanted to be certain my own family was as prepared as possible in the event of a natural disaster here. I used an already-set-up family party as the platform for my mother-hen clucking.
Sixteen members of my 22-person extended family were at the house Sunday afternoon. Not all at the same time, mind you, which made my planned discussion of emergency plans a bit tricky.
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One daughter arrived early, another late. My son, Geoff, arrived much later due to another commitment.
My parents, who were tired after several hours of hubbub, left early. They’re easy to bring into the planning picture because they live nearby. In a major disaster my spouse would go help them while I headed into The Times to help with coverage. Of course, that’s the same spouse who announced at the start of our family discussion that the only major crisis would be a terrorist attack that would wipe out the entire Northwest and preparations were futile. With that optimistic prediction, he retired to the couch and buried his nose in the latest Harry Potter book.
At least my adult children were willing to talk about options. Everyone nodded agreement that our daughter who lives in Portland would be the contact person. Each family would call Katie to let her know how we were and where we were.
I’ve since come up with two other contact options — a cousin in Illinois and my brother in Southern California.
Hopefully, that’s all we need because our discussion degenerated from there.
I expressed concern about the biggest local geographical danger — a major earthquake. They all looked at me like I’d already been shaken up and had lost my marbles.
They preferred other scenarios.
Three of the family recently ran the Hood to Coast Relay under the name Team Lahar. A lahar is a mudflow of water and volcanic debris, sort of a concrete mixture that moves rapidly downhill. So guess what pending disaster they wanted to discuss, even though Mount Rainier is 100 miles away?
The next suggestion was a flood, and everyone decided we’d then join the family member who lives on the fourth floor of a Capitol Hill condo, a bit above the 100-year flood lines around here.
Jokes were the order of business. The more serious I became, the more they grimaced and rolled eyes — a feat they all mastered as teenagers.
The light-hearted approach may be hereditary. We joke about everything in my family, and I admit calling mundane things — like running out of good chocolate — an emergency.
But at the same time, we are probably well-prepared.
I polled them individually Tuesday. A daughter who lives in Shoreline has first-aid kits in several places. She impressed me because she added latex gloves to all her emergency supplies, something I wouldn’t have considered. She thanked me for the reminder and said she needed to rotate her water supply.
A daughter-in-law and son on Bainbridge Island have water stashed and enough food, she said, to survive for at least a week or more. The Portland daughter’s family has emergency water and supplies set aside.
We have 12 gallons of water stored, and my walk-in pantry could feed an Army platoon for two weeks. We have extra batteries and several first-aid kits. My emergency backpack, which I keep near the back door, contains waterproof matches, a first-aid kit, food and a snare.
Yeah, my family laughs about that last item, too. They can’t imagine me trapping and eating a small animal.
If it meant my family would survive, you bet I’d do it. Just like I’d loot a store to feed them.
Unlike many of the evacuees around the Gulf Coast, we have cars and we have options. One of our options is to be better prepared — for a flood, a lahar or even an earthquake — so we won’t need to snare rabbits or steal food. I’m going to keep bugging my kids about being prepared.
How about you? Is your family ready?
Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or firstname.lastname@example.org