What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: sam_
Last night, the community in which I live participated in an emergency communications drill conducted by the local stake of the LDS Church. The stake has been working diligently in recent months to solidify its emergency preparedness and communications plans, and encouraging each of the assigned congregations to likewise work on their plan and prepare.
As part of the communications plan, a hierarchy has been established to allow the flow of information to travel smoothly up from the ground to the stake leadership. This structure is as follows:
Of course, this would more accurately look like a tree, since there are multiple bishops, each with multiple neighborhood reps and block captains. But you get the idea.
You might notice in the graph above that there are several people involved in the transmission of information. As part of the drill, and in the event of an emergency, the block captain would go around to ~10 homes in his immediate vicinity to collect information on each family’s status. He then reports to the neighboorhood rep, who then sends the information up the ladder.
I am on our ward’s emergency preparedness committee, and have also been asked to be the neighborhood representative for our subdivision (about 60 homes, divided into 5 “blocks”). When we received word last night that the drill had commenced, I began trying to contact the block captains. Only one of the five was home, which means that I (as the next rung of the ladder) had the privilege of going to 50 homes in the subdivision myself, running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
Additionally, the neighborhood representative for the other subdivision in our ward’s boundaries was not home, so until the ward emergency preparedness committee chair was able to get home, I had to try to contact their neighborhood’s block captains as well, and was also only able to reach one of them there.
I share these details only because they are indicative of a real emergency, and hence part of a drill. We have no idea when disaster will strike, and it could likely be during the day when people are away at work and running errands. The structure of communication shown above has multiple levels, I think, specifically for that reason. Each block captain also has an alternative (none of which I was able to get a hold of, ironically enough).
So I spent the night going around the neighborhood, knocking on doors. As part of the drill we were asked to collect some information from each household (including those not of our faith). Those two questions were as follows:
- Does each member of your household have a 72 hour kit?
- How many months of food storage does your family have?
As the night wore on I became more and more sorrowful as I was continually presented with staggering numbers of unpreparedness among most, ineptitude among many, and complete indifference among some. In addition to the questions above, I also asked those I contacted if they had water storage. I would estimate that roughly 95% of families have nothing in the way of water storage.
I was able to obtain not only our ward’s numbers, but those of most other wards in the stake as well. Below is the data, sanitized of any identifiable information regarding each ward:
As you can see, we’re doing fairly well with 72 hour kits (or, rather, far better than we are with food storage). I spoke to many families who said that they had 72 hour kits, but when pressed for a little more information revealed that they had the contents, but that they were not assembled into kits. I didn’t mark those people down as having kits, because in the event of a rapid evacuation there is no chance that they’ll have the time to assemble a kit with everything they need.
Clearly, there is a lot of work to be done. The food storage numbers are absolutely dismal, and are heavily inflated by a small minority of families that have their entire year supply. A significant majority of the families I spoke to had nothing beyond what little was in their pantry.
Community preparedness is very, very important to me, as it should be to all of us. I can store a year supply of food and water, but if my neighbors completely fail to prepare, guess whose door they’ll be knocking on (or attempting to break down)? My desire to see my neighbors and community become more prepared may indeed have a selfish component, being that I want them to use their own resources instead of mine. Should the day come, we will of course share what we have. But while the night rolls on, I’ll continue working my tail off to encourage and help others to take care of their own preparedness.
We’ve got a lot of work to do…