Seattle, Wash. -- April is traditionally Disaster Preparedness Month in the United States, with observances ranging from Governors' proclamations to state-wide "Drop, Cover and Hold" exercises. Next week (3-9 May) is Emergency Preparedness Week throughout Canada, with British Columbia sponsoring Province-wide checklists, brochures and radio and television preparedness programming.
Why the sudden emphasis on emergency preparedness? According to FEMA Deputy Regional Director Ray Williams, it's not "sudden" but a level of urgency is always appropriate when dealing with personal and professional emergency preparedness issues.
"Planning is not the same as prediction," said Williams. "Earthquakes, floods, and winter storms will occur here -- eventually, causing varying degrees of disruption and death. Y2K disruptions, acts of terrorism, or wide-ranging industrial catastrophes may strike close enough to home to warrant pre-event mitigation. The same independence and peace of mind provided by preparing for probable natural hazards will stand everyone in good stead in the event of less likely 'exotic' events."
British Columbia's Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) Director Mervin Harrower agrees. "Seasonal flooding, wildfires and earthquakes are this region's highest risk hazards, but all-hazards emergency planning is simple common-sense," said Harrower. "We live in the shadow of the Cascadia subduction zone. Earthquakes and attendant tsunami risk is something to mitigate against -- not live in fear of. The same holds true for wildfire, Y2K and virtually all potential threats to our urban infrastructure, communications and life support networks. Becoming self-sufficient in terms of water, food, shelter and medical supplies for 72-hours, until systems are restored or help arrives makes for healthier homes, neighborhoods, and communities."