United Way and NW Natural partner for emergency preparedness event


By Sue Cody

UWCC 2017 board FBAgainst the national backdrop of fires, hurricanes and floods, NW Natural held its annual event to highlight National Preparedness Month, Sept. 16, at the Astoria Armory. This year, it partnered with the kickoff campaign of United Way of Clatsop County (UWCC) to focus on emergency preparedness.

“Most people are not ready for an emergency” says Teresa Brownlie, Community Affairs manager for NW Natural in Clatsop County.

UW 2017-2 FBActivities at the Armory                             

As kids climb on big foam blocks, slide on inclines, glide across a balance beam and get faces painted, parents were getting the low-down on how to keep those kids safe in emergencies.

About 250 people turned out for the activities. Tables of social service agencies supported by United Way and emergency service groups lined the gym, handing out the information families need to know, along with some helpful swag.

UW 2017-1 FBNW Natural’s “Get Ready” reflective string backpacks with a light stick, whistle and emergency survival blanket, will come in handy, along with information on how to turn off gas and water.

“There are certain things to think about, such as all the things in your basement that might flood,” says Brownlie. “It is a good idea to have some emergency supplies on every floor, because you don’t know where you might end up.”

Clatsop County Emergency Management gives out earthquake and tsunami material that includes a sign for people to post in their window: red with “help” on one side and green “OK” on the other, to help out rescuers.

UW 2017-4 FBAwareness and some history

Clatsop County has had its own brushes with disaster. The Great Coastal Gale of 2007 hit with hurricane-force winds that knocked out power, phone service and kept the area cutoff from the rest of the state because of downed trees and powerlines. Many were without power for a week and cellphones were useless for a time. The Daily Astorian had to be published in Longview, Washington, because of the lack of power.

“Just seeing what the 2007 storm did in Clatsop County, showed how resilient this community is,” says Jennifer Holen, executive director of UWCC. “Many of us have become complacent, and put the idea of preparedness on the back burner. We don’t think about it.

“Then we see disaster in another part of the country and we see this is a very timely conversation,” Holen says. “We have amazing resources and we want people to have access to them.”

UW 2017-3 FB
United Way raises funds for 14 agencies, such as Clatsop Community Action, Lunch Buddy Mentoring Program, Helping Hands, Camp Kiwanilong, etc. The United Way campaign goal this year is $250,000. For information, see: http://www.clatsopunitedway.org/

The Way to Wellville and its sponsor, Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization support healthy activities and emergency preparedness.

“We are all in this together,” Brownlie says.

Looking around the Astoria Armory, Holen says, “I like seeing the community come together — living united, bringing everyone to the table. We want a safe, healthy community for all.”