Editorial: Keeping ahead of the storm

January 25, 2012

News alert:

School children in Hood River County went home early Tuesday because of snowfall.

Check Infoflash or call the school district information line at 541-386-2511 for Wednesday's school schedule, which will be determined overnight.

www.hoodrivernews.com will also carry updates.

To no one's surprise, it was snowing again Tuesday morning.

Five inches of new snow was predicted for Tuesday, and that appeared to be coming true.

Brace yourself for another round of bad weather.

Power outages, wrecks, extensive disruptions to schools, homes and businesses have been par for the course of late.

From Cascade Locks to Hood River to Parkdale, kudos to fire volunteers, utility and public works employees and others who have worked long, long hours to get things repaired and running, and keep them that way. In Cascade Locks, volunteers and city staff literally went door to door to keep the community informed during that town's outage.

"Slammed" is how one firefighter described the effect on volunteers and power crews (the groups work hand in hand) in the upper valley, where untold numbers of trees were knocked down, often taking power lines with them.

In Hood River, vigilant city public works and tree service crews prevented a serious landslide from knocking out the water line, and another under construction, which would have had disastrous effects for the entire community.

People are learning, or re-learning, what to do to respond effectively and stay ahead of the storm. This points to the prudent move by the school district to send kids home early; "The safety of our kids is the paramount concern,"' said Supt. Charlie Beck, who received a frank assessment from community public works partners that the new snowfall on roads looked tough to manage.

What can each of us do to prepare? As Cascade Locks City Council Member Jeff Helfrich said in looking back at last week's storm and power outage:

"We were thinking long-term, as in more than 24 hours. This emphasizes what the government says, have a 72-hour source available."

That means enough water, food, blankets and batteries or alternative heating and lighting sources to serve everyone in the household. It may be too late to rush out and prepare these things for the midweek storm, but it's helpful to keep in mind not just for snow events but any natural disaster.

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Latest video:

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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