Talent residents prepare for emergencies

TALENT — Some neighbors on the south end of town will be better prepared for an emergency after Sunday.

More than a dozen households around Lani Way plan to meet at Donna Hernandez's home to go through an exercise called Map Your Neighborhood. They'll get to know each other better, assess their resources, and map the location of critical features that would be important to know about in a disaster or an emergency.

"People have to be prepared to be their own emergency support if 9-1-1 is overwhelmed," said Hernandez, who's been trained to work as part of a community emergency response team. "With this, someone would know about kids and pets and what they would have to look for."

MYN was designed by emergency service providers in Washington state to help people help themselves in emergencies. Homeowners assess their own situation first, then go outside to check on their neighborhood.

Participants will receive a book that includes signs they can place in a window to show they are OK or need help.

Planning for emergencies "helps you to think straight," Hernandez said. "You've got the book under your bed and you can open it up and have a plan, instead of running around and not being productive," said Hernandez. "It also helps people think about being prepared, too. It should offer peace of mind."

While Lani Way isn't likely to flood, Hernandez says an earthquake, fire or toxic spill could cause a major disruption. There also are railroad tracks near the neighborhood, although train traffic has been suspended.

Power outages, storms and high winds worry CERT responder Sharon Abshire, who has organized an MYN meeting for Oct. 11 on her street in the Candlewood (see correction note below)manufactured home park off Colver Road.

"I'm mainly concerned with the elderly who have different needs for electricity," said Abshire. "It's a senior park and there are those who are by themselves and can't walk fast or move fast. It's just nice to know things like that."

Locations of gas, electric and water shutoffs for all homes will be mapped in the exercise. Resources and personal skills will be assessed and preparedness instructions will be distributed.

"We do a skills and knowledge inventory and an equipment and supplies inventory," said Hernandez. "We go down a list of who has first aid supplies, chain saws, etcetera."

Among the tips, residents are encouraged to keep a hard hat, sturdy shoes and gloves under their beds to provide protection for head, feet and hands in an emergency. They should go to a neighborhood gathering site after caring for their loved ones first.

Lucy Edwards, CERT program coordinator for the city of Ashland, has assisted Hernandez and Abshire. Ashland has already had 10 MYN meetings and another nine are scheduled for this weekend. MYN efforts don't require CERT volunteers to lead them because the process is laid out in a manual, said Edwards.

"If we get this going, maybe it will spread around and happen," said Abshire. "We don't want to get too big too fast. They told us to start small, even if we have four or five in a neighborhood."

Hernandez is available to help other neighborhoods organize MYN meetings. She can be reached at 535-5177.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboom8929@charter.net.

Correction: The name of Candlewood manufactured home park was listed incorrectly in the original version of this story. This version has been corrected.

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