Neighbours who care for each other prepare with each other.
South Ucluelet locals held an emergency preparedness themed block party on Kimoto Drive on May 7 to get to know each other and discuss how they would look after each other if disaster strikes.
The event was organized by area resident Jeanne Keith-Ferris and information was dished out to bring the neighbourhood up to speed on grab and go emergency kits, evacuation strategies and general preparedness.
“We’ve seen what happens with big tsunami events or wildfire events; you need to have your neighbourhood get its head around the fact that when first responders are overwhelmed, we have to be able to help ourselves,” Keith-Ferris told the Westerly.
“We thought it would be really valuable for our neighbourhood to each meet and greet everyone…Where we live in this sector of our municipality, with the narrow shaft of the road, we could easily be inundated and cut off for a period of time.”
She said it is important for neighbourhoods to understand which of its members might need extra assistance.
“By taking the time to get to know our neighbours, we’re going to know that kind of important information for if and when something were to happen. It’s just a good way for us to make those connections now ahead of time and be ready,” she said.
She said the area has set up a “circle-wise neighbourhood” with ten circle-coordinators responsible for about 5-10 homes in an emergency.
Coordinators meet about three times a year but this was the first time residents gathered for a emergency preparedness block party.
“This would be the first one and we’ll continue to build upon it,” Keith-Ferris said.
She hopes to see other local neighbourhoods pick up on the idea and hold similar events.
“We all live here in this community and everyone’s always busy working and going to their jobs and people need to stop and take the chance to really get to know the needs of your community and your neighbours,” she said.
The district’s manager of emergency and environmental services Karla Robison attended the event and was thrilled to see the neighbourhood’s initiative.
“The current situation in Fort McMurray and other past disasters have demonstrated that the most immediate help following a disaster comes from those directly around you; your family and neighbours,” Robison told the Westerly.
“It is exciting to see more residents get onboard with emergency preparedness. The District of Ucluelet thanks Jeanne Keith-Ferris for her job well done with initiating the program and bringing her neighbours together to learn how to be prepared, to create a plan and assign responsibilities, and to learn how to support each other during and after an emergency event.”