Following severe storms in Washington that caused extensive damage to homes, left more than a million people without power, and resulted in three fatalities, Rep. Matt Shea is encouraging citizens to plan and be prepared for future emergencies.
“Washington has experienced a number of natural disasters in recent months and years, including devastating fires in Eastern Washington, landslides and floods in Western Washington, and now, these powerful wind and rain storms across our state,” said Shea, R-Spokane Valley. “No one knows when a disaster or an emergency will strike, but being prepared can make the difference between life and death.”
On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency for all Washington counties as a result of the storms. Shea noted that nearly 380,00 people in the Spokane area and Inland Northwest are without power and it could be days until the electricity is restored.
“If you have no electricity, no gas, no food and water, no radio, no telephone service, and all of the nearby businesses are closed, and you are without any kind of emergency services, what will you do until help arrives?” asked Shea.
“It’s important to be self-reliant and also good to be in a position to help your friends and neighbors during an emergency,” he added. “That means having no less than a week’s supply of food and water, stocking extra blankets and warm clothing, and other important basic supplies such as batteries, flashlights, a battery-powered radio, oil lamps, First-Aid kits, pet food, matches, medicines and cash.”
Shea also offered these tips:
- Gas stations were closed and pumps off so whatever we have for fuel in our cars is what we have. Keep your tanks at least half full.
- Gas stove for cooking still functions, but electric would not.
- Most modern houses are without heat, even gas heat, because no fans or thermostats are working. Wood stoves are critical. We should always keep them legal. (I will be introducing legislation in the coming session to protect the use of wood stoves.)
- Radio net worked perfectly. How will you get info/talk to the outside world?
- Three of five flashlights failed after a short while. Spare batteries are key.
- Local General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) channel was clogged by a family talking about every little detail from their dog to how the husband was hungry. Don’t be the person to clog the nets. It actually isn’t that cool.
- Water still works in the city, but if it was freezing and power was off for days, how long would that last? Have twice as much water on hand as you think you need. How would you generate electricity to not only pump water but keep pipes from freezing?
- There are a ton of trees down blocking roads and driveways. Do you have a chainsaw? Is it in good working order? Do you have fuel, oil and lubricant for it?
“I’ve taken severe criticism in the past for talking about emergency preparedness. But these latest storms underscore that it makes good sense. Too many people think they can rely on the government to come and save them, but the reality is that when a widespread disaster strikes, government resources are often stretched far beyond their capacity to help everyone the moment they need it,” said Shea. “I strongly encourage everyone to become self-reliant so that you can lessen the burden on your neighbors during a crisis and be ready to help.”
Shea offered several online resources to help citizens with disaster planning:
- Washington Military Department Emergency Management Division:
- Access Washington Emergency Information and Resources
- Greater Spokane Emergency Management
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
The 4th District lawmaker said citizens may also contact his Spokane Valley district office at (509) 921-2353 about further disaster planning information.
For more information about Rep. Shea, visit: www.representativemattshea.com.