Saturday, July 28, 2007

Keeping The City Intact For Looters

The Disaster Preparedness Board meets monthly around this table in the rear of the city council chambers. I'm usually ten minutes early because that's just me. Marvin has no excuse for being late. His office is right next door at the police station. As the minutes tick by Marvin and I joke about why we even bother! Finally, about twenty minutes after the hour we have a quorum, the city's public relations person is there, and all we have to wait for is the secretary who takes the minutes and Myrna, the chairwoman.

We do get hurricanes, occasional flooding, and the rare tornado touches down, so the city needs to be prepared. For the most part staff does a great job planning for such disasters but we're there to give them direction, citizen input. Things like where we should set up a food distribution center now that the old bowling alley has been torn down. Can we work a deal with the county school board to use a couple of schools? Which ones would be best?

We remind the code enforcemet people to check that the elevators AND the emergency generators in high-rise buildings are working. What about supplying water and ice? Is Public Works ready to get out the chainsaws and crews and trucks to clear the streets for the power company trucks and emergency vehicles?

We set up meetings and seminars to speak to the residents and hand out packets of information reminding them to stock up on canned goods, candles, to have buckets of water on hand for flushing toilets and jugs of water for drinking. Get a few five gallon containers full of gasoline before a storm arrives. It might be days before you can by more. Essentially to plan for the worst.

I tell people to buy canned goods year round, whenever they have a buy one/get one free sale. Buy packs of batteries on sale. Get your pantry full and you won't have to fight the crowds as a storm aproaches. You'll save a bundle also. The time to buy candles is the day after Christmas for red and green and the day after Hallowe'en for orange and black, when they're closing them out for 90% off.

Well, about twenty minutes after the hour we got the meeting started. It seemed that staff had everything under control. We were soon saying goodbye to one another again. I rushed out to smoke a cigarette and headed over to Starbucks. I got a refill of coffee.


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