Category Archives: Your Stories

A NET Training Experience

By JoAnn K.

I finished the NET training from the City of Portland this past November and it was a wonderful experience.  I enjoyed learning what the City’s emergency personnel can/can’t and will/won’t do in a catastrophic emergency situation.  I think there is a common misconception that in a catastrophe the police and fire rescue will be there to guide and help us.  Unfortunately for the general neighborhood, the City’s emergency personnel are bound to save the greatest number of lives, which means during a catastrophe they will be obligated to go to the most heavily populated areas first – leaving neighborhoods on their own.  Knowing this it becomes clear that it is important for us to get ourselves trained in proper emergency techniques.

The NET training covers utility shut-offs (when to and when not to shut them off, and how to do it properly), triage, disaster medicine, Fire/HAZMAT, and Search and Rescue.  Curiously enough they don’t cover CPR and only basic first aid is discussed – an extensive knowledge of either of these are not required.  Also, I was relieve to learn that NET team members are not to place themselves or others in danger to save another.  There is no entering burning or collapsing buildings, etc.

After all of the training and practice there was an open book exam and a field exercise to put into practice everything I learned in class.  The field exercise was more like another practice session as the trainers were right there beside us the whole time, offering tips and suggestions.

Anyone can take the training, even those with limited physical abilities.  Accommodations are made at every step for those who have special needs and there are important positions in all phases of the emergency plan for those with limitations to fully participate and make a huge difference.

The emergency personnel for the City of Portland are just so thrilled with anyone willing to take this training that they are very accommodating and supportive of our efforts.  I highly recommend everyone takes the NET training, the more NET team members in a neighborhood the better off that neighborhood will be able to handle catastrophic events.

Photo source: public domain

The Sumatra Earthquake

by Jerry K.

It was the first great quake of the century.  It registered 9.0 on the Richter scale and hit the subduction zone just off shore of Sumatra, midway around the “Ring of Fire” from us.  The shock was felt as far away as Mt. Hood.  The tidal surge affected the West Coast though only minimally.  The main force of the resulting tsunamis, as we know, swept west across the Indian Ocean instead of the Pacific.  The death toll is staggering, nearly 150,000 at the last estimate.

The question people should ask themselves is, “Could it happen here?”  It has before and will again.  In the early 1700’s the Oregon Coast was hit with a Great Quake about the size of the Sumatra Quake.  This “subduction zone” quake occurred deep under the ocean floor just off the coastal shelf.  The resulting tsunami devastated local Indian fishing villages.  This was, of course, before written records.  Geologists found the evidence in a layer of salt that lies about 7′ below the surface of the soil.  This led to a deeper check and found that Great Quakes hit the Pacific Northwest every 300-500 years.

This is old news…we’ve been preparing for quakes for years.  Emergency planning programs, ones like FEMA’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Portland Fire Bureau’s Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET), etc. are in place.  Every coastal community is protected by off shore sensors and beach sirens to warn of tsunamis approaching.  This helps warn people but won’t stop the economic devastation.  Places like Tillamook where the dairy pastures will become salt marshes and the cheese factory will be swept away.

Buildings in Portland and as far away as Seattle will collapse, particularly old unreinforced masonry buildings.  Large warehouse type pre-fab structures you see in industrial parks will fall after a great quake.  Factories will be closed, bridges and infrastructure destroyed, hospitals, schools and churches damaged sometimes beyond repair.  It would be worse if it wasn’t for the upgraded building codes and earthquake preparedness measures put into place in the past decades.

Due to all the planning the death toll will not be in the hundreds of thousands.  But they are expected to be in the thousands, maybe ten thousand dead and one hundred thousand left homeless from the quake itself.  The economic damage will be in the hundreds of billions.

The way you can mitigate damage to your family is to prepare physically and spiritually.  Get a 72 hour kit ready and then your one year food storage.  Reduce your debt and save money for emergencies.  Pray every day and live the gospel.  “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.”  (D&C 38:30)

72 hour kit tip: Will you be dressed for the weather when the earthquake hits?  If it happens in the wee hours of the morning where are your warm clothes and shoes that will protect your feet from broken glass?  Keep a set of shoes next to your bed that will get you through the glass and put a pair of sweats or other easily donned clothes in your 72 hour kit.

Jerry K.

Article from 2004 Noah’s Ark Newsletter/LDS Intelligent Living

Photo source: public domain – U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Tyler J. Clements – Indonesia (Jan. 14, 2005) – The aftermath of the Dec. 26 tsunami which destroyed Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia.


By Laraine L. Thompson

In a recent conversation between women in the ward, the subject of self-reliance arose. What is it? How do we foster it? We all know that self-reliance is an intrinsic value in the church’s plan for each member’s “provident living.”  Indeed, like the spokes on a wheel, the individual components of provident living, i.e., physical health, social and emotional strength, education and literacy, employment, resource management, food storage and emergency preparedness, and caring for others rely upon one’s determination to be self-reliant every bit as much as the spokes on a wheel would rely upon its’ hub for stability and strength. Self-reliance then becomes the hub of the church’s program to teach us provident living.

Inherent in self-reliance is the concept of confidence–confidence in one’s self and more importantly confidence in the Lord’s opinion that we are all qualified to accomplish whatever he asks of us. Nephi clearly teaches this concept in The Book of Mormon when he refuses to come away without the brass plates and replies instead, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments….save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” 1 Ne: 3:7. Nephi made a decision to demonstrate confidence. And it was and is a decision—an act of will!

In more modern times there is perhaps no one who displays confidence as an act of willful decision more than Mary Fielding Smith. She was of course, the widow of Hyrum Smith who was martyred along with his brother Joseph at Carthage Jail. Quite alone and without means she and her children, one of whom, Joseph F., would later become the prophet of the church, prepared to migrate west with the rest of the Saints in 1848. With ingenious tenacity she and her children struggled from Nauvoo to Winters Quarters. Once there, one of the men supervising the cattle in the pioneer company urged Mary to stay behind telling her that she and her family would only be a burden to the rest of the company and that she would either have to be carried or left behind at some point.

Undaunted and with all of the confidence in the world, Mary retorted, “I will beat you to the valley and will ask no help from you either!” Don’t you love this woman!

She and her children did indeed make that trek. It was not without further trials however. At one point one of her best oxen became deathly ill and was unable to continue the trek. Without that ox she was doomed. She found a bottle of consecrated oil and asked two priesthood brethren to administer to her sick ox. The men resisted; however, Mary, believing that the Lord would heal her ox, confidently insisted. The animal was blessed, healed, and Mary soon resumed her trip.

Her oxen became sick two more times. And two more times Mary insisted that they be blessed by the priesthood. Each time, they were instantly healed. Despite all impediments, Mary and her children made it to the Salt Lake Valley.

After a bitter winter that can so easily characterize the valley, food and shelter were scarce. Summer came and with her characteristic pluck and confidence, Mary planted and harvested a crop. Choosing her best produce, she headed to the bishop’s storehouse to pay her tithing. The tithing clerk, knowing of her poverty, urged her to reconsider a tithe. Mary’s rebuke? “William, you ought to be ashamed of yourself! Would you deny me a blessing? If I did not pay my tithing I should expect the Lord to withhold His blessings from me; I pay  tithing, not only because it is a law of God but because I expect a blessing by doing it!”

Mary’s confident self reliance continued throughout her life. She remained independent, raising chickens, sheep and cattle to help support herself and her family.

At her death, Joseph F. said of his mother, “Nothing beneath the celestial kingdom can surpass my deathless love for the sweet true, noble, soul who gave me birth—my own, own mother! She was good! She was pure! She was indeed a Saint! A royal daughter of God!”

Let Nephi and Mary serve as our examples as we confidently determine that we too will be self-reliant. Surely the Lord expects no less of us…….

Photo source: LDS Media Library

The Ant and the Grasshopper

By Mike Thompson

The Ant and the Grasshopper

I suspect that most of us remember the story of the ants who were preparing for the winter and the grasshopper who fiddled away his time to prepare. This story has several insightful issues and truths that we each should consider.

In a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest. “Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?” “I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.” “Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew: It is best to prepare for the days of necessity. From Aesop’sFables

The question is; are we an “ant” or are we a “grasshopper”? We don’t really know when “winter” will come or how long we have to prepare for “it.” I don’t know if it is “spring, summer, or fall”, but I do know that it is time for us to prepare.

May we each use the available time to prepare for what lies before us.

Mike Thompson

The Volcano Threat

by Jerry K.

This month we are going to talk about the threat posed by volcanoes here.  “But surely we have no threats, St. Helens is too far to the north and Mt.Hood is extinct.”  Wrong, Mt.Hood is not extinct but is merely dormant, like all of the major volcanoes on the PacificCoast (e.g. Mt.Ranier).  Just like St. Helens was until March 27, 1980 when she awoke.  I want to thank the folks at Volcano World for the following two paragraphs:

Mount St. Helens is a stratovolcano. When Mount St. Helens erupted on 18 May 1980, the top 1,300 ft. disappeared within minutes. The blast area covered an area of more than 150 sq. miles and sent thousands of tons of ash into the upper atmosphere.  A small, short-lived explosive event at Mount St. Helens volcano began at approximately 5:25 p.m. PST, March 8, 2005. Airplane pilot reports indicate that the resulting steam-and-ash plume reached an altitude of about 36,000 feet above sea level within a few minutes and drifted downwind to the northeast. The volcano’s rim stands at 8,325 feet.

Mount Hood (45.4N, 121.7W) is the tallest mountain in Oregon (11,237 feet, 3,426 m) and popular with skiers, hikers, and climbers. It is 45 miles (75 km) east-southeast of Portland, Oregon. Mount Hood is a stratovolcano made of lava flows, domes, and volcaniclastic deposits. Most of the volcano is andesite composition. The main cone of Mount Hood formed about 500,000 years ago. In the last 15,000 years the volcano has had four eruptive periods. During the most recent eruptive period, 250-180 years ago, lava domes collapsed and produced numerous pyroclastic flows and lahars which buried the southwest flank of the mountain. Crater Rock, a prominent rocky pinnacle just below the summit, is the most recent lava dome. Similar eruptions in the future pose the greatest risk to communities on the flank of the volcano.

The folks at Volcano World simply say that the communities on the flank of the volcano, Government Camp, ZigZag, Camp Baldwin (BSA), etc. are in the greatest risk.  This is not to say that we are not in risk.  Remember that Mt.St. Helens affected an area over 150 square miles in size.  We don’t know the size of an explosion and if Portland would feel the blast effect directly.  But ash and debris would flow down rivers such as the Sandy affecting communities downstream.  Sandy, Troutdale and the Columbia River itself could be affected.  The brunt of the airborne ash would fall on Eastern Oregon and SE Washington before settling on Boise, Idaho.

A point to remember with Mount St. Helens is that the time from when the volcano awoke in 1980 to when she erupted was just under 2 months.  None of these things takes place overnight.  Should Mt.Hood become more active (the mountain has small quakes all the time, just like Mt.St. Helens) the news would be all over the event.  We would have warnings and likely would get the notice to evacuate the city in time.  The operative word here is “likely.”  Include plans for evacuation in your 72 hour kit.  Plans that cover a local disaster (such as a house fire) and area wide disasters (such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions).

2005 Noah’s Ark Newsletter/LDS Intelligent Living

Photo source: public domain
Department of Natural Resources, State of Washington

Ash-darkened east slopes as they appeared on March 30. This ash was derived entirely from rock pulverized by the explosively-expanding, high-temperature steam and other gases. No new rock material was produced during this stage of the eruption. Note that the location of the ash fall indicates the direction of the prevailing wind. Mount Rainier, another volcanic peak, is visible in the background.

Hurricane Katrina

by Jerry K.

We have yet to hear a tally of the dead from the August 30th-31st storm.  Not all bodies have been recovered.  What killed people?  Let’s call it terminal unpreparedness.  Not heeding to the warnings given over the years on how to prepare a family disaster plan.  Not preparing a 72 hour kit/evacuation kit.  Not obeying civil authorities who said to evacuate the costal area prior to the storm hitting.

Let’s look at those who survived.  All of the people who heeded the call to evacuate and left New Orleans survived.  Almost all of the people who went to official shelters in New Orleans survived.  None were swept away by the storm surge.  That 15′ wall of water that rushed the Louisiana and Mississippi coastline pushing boats and building debris inland just like a tidal wave.  It was the storm surge and floods from torrential rains that drowned most folks who chose to shelter in their homes.

More on the survivors of Hurricane Katrina.  Few had what is required to survive on their own 3 days until relief efforts become organized and successful.  Remember that for the first 3 days authorities are in “rescue” mode.  Those that are alive and not trapped are expected to fend for themselves and their neighbors.  After the three days are up then the government expects to be able to restore some order and move needed supplies to the needy.  So what did the unprepared do?  They suffered needlessly, some even going so far as to loot neighborhood businesses.  Sadly, folks have been beaten, raped and even murdered by roving gangs of thugs.  Even the “official” shelter in New Orleans has been privy to these terrible crimes.

So how can we avoid the fate of victims of Katrina?  By first reviewing our family disaster plan.  We do not live in hurricane country.  There will be no warnings for us to evacuate before the expected disaster, the great quake, strikes.  It will hit suddenly, likely when we are either asleep or away from home.  So plan accordingly.  Next check your 72 hour kits.  If you don’t have one then build one.  Be ready to survive for at least 3 days on your own wherever you may be.  Having access to supplies at work or in your car may be your best bet.

Expect to be separated from loved ones.  Have a communication plan and a contact point.  Such as “We will all call Grandma Moses in Utah and let her know how we each are.”  Calling someone outside the affected area is best.  Then have a contact point, a place where you plan to meet if separated.  Such as the ward building or the children’s school.  Someplace where you can also leave messages if you are evacuated from there.  Tragically, there are many families that have yet to find out what happened to their loved ones in the aftermath of Katrina.  Please learn from their mistakes.

Jerry K.

2006 Noah’s Ark Newsletter/LDS Intelligent Living

photo source: public domain – Hurricane Katrina


Loss Mitigation

By Jerry K.

Long before the disaster hits you should sit down and prepare.  Not just in making a family evacuation plan, building 72 hour kits, budget and savings plans but also in loss mitigation.  This involves putting on your “earthquake eyes” and examining your home for breakables, potential damage and loss.  Only by seeing what will break and where the hazards will be can you take steps to prevent injury and the loss of irreplaceable valuables.  As for the rest, well that is what home owner/renters insurance is for (with flood/earthquake clauses as appropriate).  Preparing an inventory of possessions and estimated replacement cost is another part of this exercise, one that shouldn’t be ignored.

What do I mean by putting on your “earthquake eyes?”  I mean walk around your house, room by room and see what will shake and fall over.  The kitchen and bathrooms are the most dangerous places in the house but how many of you have paintings or pictures hanging from the wall above your beds?  Are the frames heavy enough to hurt you if/when it falls on your head?  Now look for other hazards like mirrors and windows.  Glass is the hazard.  If you can’t do without those extra full length mirrors on your closet or bedroom door then be prepared to deal with the hazard they will pose.  Keep a sturdy pair of shoes and a flashlight next to your bed so you can see hazards and walk through them without getting cut.

Bookshelves, china cabinets and shelves with knickknacks require special attention as well.  Are the shelves properly secured to the wall?  Can you add lips to shelves to prevent items from falling out?  Do you need child-proof locks for cabinet doors to keep china or collectibles from shaking out?  Or is there a lower spot for that special plate Grandma left you where if it falls it might survive?  Some treasures may need to be wrapped up and put away to only come out for holidays or special occasions.

Don’t forget the foundation, electrical and plumbing.  Is the house firmly fixed to the foundation of the house?  Do you have cripple walls?  Typically these are found on buildings built on hillsides.  Cripple walls need reinforcing.  Is your water heater attached to the foundation or basement walls with plumbers tape?  Do you know how to shut off all electrical and gas appliances in an emergency?  If you have a gas meter attach a cheap crescent wrench to the gas pipe next to the meter.  Have it already adjusted to fit the main cut off valve.  Then you don’t have to hunt for one after an earthquake (possibly in the dark with a collapsed house) so you can shut off the gas.  Remember only to shut off the gas if you see the lower right gauge spinning.  Slow movement comes with normal use but if it spins there is a break in the line.  (After shutting it off only the gas company can turn it back on.)

Not all damage can be mitigated.  But many things can be if you use some ingenuity and common sense.  Just wear your “earthquake eyes” and look around your house.

2005 Noah’s Ark Newsletter/LDS Intelligent Living