Citylab: Vashon Island Community Prepares for Disasters

The Vashon Island community has spent years working to be prepared for an emergency/disaster situation, going as far as forming a non-profit organization – VashonBePrepared – to coordinate the disaster preparedness organizations on the island. From Citylab.com, here is an excerpt from Preparing for ‘The Big One’ in an Isolated Island Town.

…[T]he island community has been building up its emergency preparedness efforts for nearly two decades. The work was initially kicked off when Joseph Ulatoski, a retired brigadier general and island resident, started asking who was responsible if a disaster struck. His questions led to a small group of locals meeting monthly to figure out exactly how they would handle such a situation, Wallace says.

“As time went on, it became clear that we needed to be more organized, structured, and also that we would be in a form that could be recognized by people,” he says.

The result was VashonBePrepared. Today it’s a non-profit, FEMA-sanctioned coalition of the island’s disaster preparedness organizations, including CERT and Voice of Vashon. Its purpose is exclusively to prepare the island for an emergency by helping to coordinate these organizations; it doesn’t actually play a role in real-time response efforts.

“It is a coalition to organize these partner groups to be efficient, avoid redundancy and duplication of effort, and inspire each other to move forward with all these different programs that each of us are running,” says Wallace, who is also the vice president of VashonBePrepared’s executive committee.

One of these key partner organizations is the Neighborhood Emergency Response Organization. Similar, in a sense, to neighborhood watch groups, its leaders have organized hundreds of households into neighborhood groups so they can get to know each other and thus be more likely to help one another if an emergency hits…

Ham radio operators in the emergency operations center radio room. (Courtesy of Rick Wallace)

Click here to read the entire story at CityLab.