Wednesday, June 8, 2011

CERT in Action from the Citizen corp website

here is a sample:
CERT in Action!
Oregon CERT Activated to Prepare for Tsunami
When the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami struck Japan on March 11, 2011, residents of the coastal Oregon town of Astoria were concerned that a tsunami wave would also strike their area, which lies near the mouth of the Columbia River. Bracing for the worst, area fire department personnel advised people in low-lying areas of the possible inundation zone to move to higher ground. The Astoria CERT was activated at 5:30 AM to stage a relocation center for anyone who responded to these warnings.

A dozen CERT members from Astoria and neighboring towns Lewis and Clark reported to a local elementary school to set up a tsunami shelter. They brewed coffee and prepared food for the firefighters who had been up all night trying to warn people to relocate, as well as for citizens who came to weather a possible tsunami wave. The CERT staged these activities from its "CERTmobile" a former ambulance that not only has food-preparation space, but also holds emergency equipment, including chainsaws, generators, floodlights, traffic signs, and radios for all law enforcement and amateur radio channels. The CERT coordinators kept in constant contact with amateur radio operators observing conditions along the coast.The CERT members staffed the post until it became clear later that morning that their area would not be hit by the tsunami, although parts of the southern Oregon and northern California coasts were damaged.

"We were really, really fortunate that the waves were minimal," said Dorothy Davidson, who, with her husband Bill, shares leadership of the Astoria CERT. However, Davidson noted that the tsunami had an unanticipated benefit for her team: her CERT events have been unusually well-attended since March. "A horrible situation turned out to be a blessing," said Davidson. "It reinforced the idea that a distant event could affect [local residents]."

Even though the tsunami did not reach her community, Davidson was glad her CERT was ready in the event of a tragedy. "We're calling people at 5:30 in the morning, and they actually come; that says a lot," noted Davidson. "That's volunteerism at its best."