In Boston, a text message brings ‘true relief’: Amidst panic, Emmons family finds each other

Panicked crowds and no phone service added to the fears for a Hood River family separated just yards away at the time of the Boston bombings.

“The phone system was overloaded, there were so many people calling, and no one could get through,” said Shawn Emmons, who had finished the marathon, her second, in 3:41.

She was at the family meeting area a few hundred yards away when the explosions happened, looking for her mother, Caroline DeBorde, and daughter, Denali, who had been in the area between the blasts a few minutes earlier.

DeBorde and Denali had seen the flashes and plumes, not knowing where Shawn was.

“We saw the smoke, and a little fire came up but then everyone was running everywhere, and there police and sirens,” said Denali, an HRVHS freshman. Her father is HRMS Principal Brent Emmons.

“It was really scary,” said Denali, at her first Boston Marathon.

“We saw both of the explosions, we were about a block away,” Denali said. “We heard this really loud sound, and we were walking towards it, and saw a huge plume of smoke, and seconds later another plume a little bit further away. We were not sure what it was; someone thought it was a propane tank but when the second one went off we knew that wasn’t what it was.”

“Total relief!” is how DeBorde described her feeling when, a few minutes later; she got a text from Shawn, saying she was at the family meeting area.

“We said, ‘Where is the family meeting area?’” DeBorde said.

She finally made her way between buses and got the answer from a marathon volunteer, and they were able to reach Shawn. From there they returned to their motel, across the street from Tufts University Medical Center, and followed official advice and stayed in the hotel the rest of the night.

Shawn had some respiratory problems just after finishing the race and had been in the medical tent at the bomb site about a half an hour before the blast, but had since left, and was trying to locate her family at the time of incident.

“We were just trying to find my mom,” Denali said. “We were at the end of the buses and didn’t know where the family meeting area was, trying to find her, and as we were trying to get closer, the police said, ‘You can’t go through.’ We were just trying to find a way.”

All three family members are safe and will travel from the Boston area to Washington, D.C., prior to returning to the Gorge.

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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 to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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