Like many of you, I have been saddened to read about and watch the natural disasters unfold across our country this past month. Hurricane Harvey caused devastating floods in Texas and Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc in Florida. Closer to home, wildfires spread throughout our beloved forests, endangering many residential communities right here in Oregon. Even in Happy Valley, the smoke kept people indoors and ashes fell in our yards.
As tragic as these events were, I was encouraged to see everyday people step up to lend a hand. Even a month later, I continue to see images of men and women towing their boats back into the affected areas of Houston, ready to assist however they could.
I’m also continually amazed at the dedication, bravery, and service of our first responders. Here at home, local firefighters protected Multnomah Falls Lodge, a landmark that holds a special place in each Oregonian’s heart, from the Eagle Creek Fire. Countless others are still working nearly around the clock to contain forest fires throughout the state.
As all of these events happen around us, I took a few moments to reflect on our own community and the risks we face. Following that reflection, I’d like to offer two key thoughts.
First, the City is prepared. We have an Emergency Preparedness Plan that is continually re-evaluated and practiced by our staff members, in partnership with Clackamas Fire and Clackamas County. Just last year we participated in a statewide exercise simulating the occurrence of a major earthquake. There is no way to be prepared for every situation, but we do our best to have systems in place to respond to disasters at home.
Second, it is important that each family takes steps to be prepared for the unknown. We witnessed many situations in Texas and Florida where people were saved by a prepared family member or neighbor who was willing to lend a hand. Make sure your family has a 72-hour emergency kit and routinely discuss what your family should do in case of a disaster. I have no doubt that many in our community would stand up to lend a hand during a crisis, but we all must make sure that our families are safe and sound first.
From Happy Valley, I wish everyone affected by the most recent disasters a speedy recovery. I encourage all of you to reflect and become prepared in your own homes.