Ordinance authorizes emergency evacuations

June 14

Last year’s wildfire that ripped along the eastern edge of Cascade Locks unearthed a gap in the county’s emergency planning process.

Although Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler advised many residents in September 2003 to leave homes within the danger zone, he had no formal authority to enforce that request.

To prevent the possible loss of life during another “extraordinary event,” the Hood River County Commission adopted an Emergency Preparedness ordinance last week.

The term “emergency” is defined in the new code as any event causing or threatening loss of life and injury to people, property or the environment.

An emergency can also be created by human suffering and financial loss from a natural disaster, civil disturbance, riot, sabotage or war.

Under the new code, once county officials determine that a state of emergency exists, the following precautions may be taken:

* Establishment of a curfew within the identified emergency zone.

* Limiting or prohibiting public gatherings.

* Restrictions on both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

* Expelling or restricting people from a specific geographical area.

* Suspension of the competitive bidding process for quicker access to necessary goods, services and equipment.

* Redirection of county funds for emergency use.

* Other measures as needed to reasonably protect life, the environment and property.

Citizens failing to obey any directive during an emergency shall be charged with a civil violation.

The ordinance also establishes a chain of command for enforcement of emergency rules. The county board is charged with making the formal declaration of an emergency. If time is a factor, the chair may institute protection measures; however a majority of the board must concur at the first available opportunity.

If members of the elected body are unavailable, that duty falls to the county administrator, then the sheriff, followed by the public works director and, finally, the emergency services coordinator. The administrator is also given leeway to delegate his/her authority to the emergency services coordinator.

Similar emergency guidelines have also recently been put in place by the cities of Hood River and Cascade Locks. The three local government agencies were asked by Karl Tesch, county emergency services coordinator, to take that action to ensure the preservation of peace, safety and welfare of the citizenry.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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