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You've heard the warnings -- but are you at least partly prepared for a massive earthquake...?

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - Woodstock Neighborhood Emergency Team Leader Mark Ginsberg was in his driveway when he laid out suggested disaster preparedness supplies and gave basic advice on a recent KOIN-TV news segment. Houston's recent catastrophic flooding has emphasized messages we've been hearing lately about "preparedness" in case of disaster – which prompted BEE news partner KOIN-TV News to look for a local NET leader to demonstrate what that means in our part of town, for an afternoon newscast on August 29.

"NET" stands for "Neighborhood Emergency Team", and volunteers in most neighborhoods in Southeast have been trained by Portland Fire and Rescue experts on how to help neighbors in the event of disaster. You, yourself, could volunteer to be one of these NET volunteers. Channel 6's Lisa Balick chose Woodstock NET's Mark Ginsberg for the demonstration.

In Oregon, that disaster could be fire, flood, wind, or the 9 to 10 magnitude "plate boundary earthquakes" that recur every 300 to 800 years. The last one took place in January of 1700, so it may already be overdue here, according to the geological record.

To demonstrate for KOIN-TV how to prepare – even for lesser disasters – Ginsberg laid out his supplies in his Woodstock driveway, and explained for the camera about the processes and provisions necessary.

"This preparation doesn't have to happen all in one fell swoop," remarked Ginsberg, gesturing toward the water, food, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, camping gear, "dry" toilet, and pet carrier he had assembled. "You can take it on a little at a time, acquiring as you can.

"If you are pressed for storage space, then prioritize what you need, such as water and camping gear. It's important to have [at least] three days' supply of water – one gallon per person per day," he explained. He himself uses seven-gallon jugs to store water but he pointed out that smaller containers – more easily lifted – may be more convenient for some.

"Change the water every six months. Remember to do that on a schedule of 'Spring Forward, Fall Back'," he advised, referring to seasonal clock changes. "Water your garden with the old water, and refill [containers] from a garden hose, or spigot.

"Food storage can include cans of beans, soup, tuna, and dry seasoned noodle packets. But, in case you need to leave your residence, have some 'grab and go' food in your emergency backpack," Ginsberg suggested. And he reminded that some dehydrated food has a twenty-year shelf life. When stockpiling dehydrated food, Ginsberg added that it is best to try it first, to avoid being stuck with a quantity of something that turns out to be undesirable.

For sanitation needs, the "dry" toilets can simply be two empty five gallon plastic buckets with lids and toilet seat covers – one for urine, one or more for solid waste – with sawdust or cat litter inside.

For pets, a carrier and extra food can mean that you won't need to stay behind because of a pet. A leash for cats as well as dogs is also suggested. A chip in the ear helps, in case pets are separated from owners – see your vet about that.

For heating water, a propane canister stove or a two-burner Coleman stove is practical. A "Kelly Kettle" that can use newspaper or junk mail for fuel, and boils water in 3-5 minutes, is slightly more expensive. Sleeping bags and a tent can make it possible to camp out in the backyard or on a parking lot for as much as a month if necessary. A flashlight, camping lamp, batteries, matches, and a steel striker, are essential.

Ginsberg advised putting home documents on a USB "thumb drive" that can serve as a backup in case of document damage or loss. And it's very important is to have a "reunification plan" – an appointed place to meet family and/or neighbors after a disaster. The one important thing Ginsberg forgot to mention? Toilet paper. Don't forget that.

Ginsberg also coordinates with four other surrounding Southeast Portland NET teams. All of them, including the one in Woodstock, meet together on the first Monday of each month from 6:30-7:30. Locations vary. For more information, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. For general information about NET, or to see about getting involved yourself to benefit your family and neighbors, go online to: www.portlandprepares.org

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