Two people from different agencies are working together to help Oregonians become ready for emergencies by bringing diverse skill sets, and a passion for helping communities and families, to send their message of disaster preparedness.
March was earthquake awareness month in Oregon, and communities up and down the Oregon Coast got a special presentation from CeCi Pratt, a Red Cross readiness specialist for Lincoln, Clatsop and Tillamook counties; and Althea Rizzo, geologic hazards program coordinator for Oregon Emergency Management. The two said they have been working together since 2006 to make sure communities in Oregon will be more prepared if a large earthquake and tsunami strikes.
Pratt and Rizzo made one of their stops in Seaside, Ore., March 11 for the 4th Annual, 16-day long Tsunami Road Show that happened in 17 coastal communities from March 10-25, spanning the Oregon Coast. The Seaside event, like many others, saw a strong turnout filling the Broadway Middle School library with approximately 60 people for a Tsunami preparation talk.
Rizzo said the earthquake and tsunami road show concept was her idea, and is only one of its’ kind as far as she knows.
“Oregon Emergency Management is mandated by legislature to improve life in Oregon after a disaster, and if something were to happen, I would not be able to sleep at night knowing I had left something undone,” Rizzo said.
Rizzo said she is very happy to have Pratt involved because they have different strengths that help create a stronger unified message.
“I have a lot of respect for CeCi, she has great energy and people really relate to her message about taking care of family and community by being prepared,” Rizzo explained. “I very much enjoy working with CeCi Pratt of the American Red Cross because she is always so inspiring with her passion and love helping people become better prepared for all emergencies and natural hazards.”
Rizzo has a doctorate degree from Oregon State University and has been working as an expert at OEM for five years 5 years. Pratt said the feeling in mutual and that she respects Rizzo’s knowledge, as well.
“I love working with Althea because she is an expert and this is a great way for us to do outreach and cater to a variety of audience members to generate a lot of interest,” Pratt said. “Our relationship helps ensure we are getting the best message out so the public will know about the situation and what to do if it ever occurs.”
Douglas C. Dougherty, Ph.D., superintendent for the Seaside School District said he was impressed with the presentation, mentioning that even though the audience was diverse, it was valuable for everyone.
“The presenters addressed a variety of specific concerns and were able to communicate well to a group with a large variety of knowledge about the subject,” Dougherty said. “This is worthwhile for the community because we are in a unique Geologic situation and it helps our local community understand what the threat is.”
Pratt, who has been a readiness specialist for 7 years, said she and Rizzo want to give a simplistic message for a practical response.
“We are both passionate about getting the word out to families so they will be safe and we don’t want people to become complacent,” Pratt said.
Rizzo echoed that sentiment.“It is my job is to save lives, to protect property, and motivate people to get families and businesses ready to protect their property,” added Rizzo. “If people want me to visit I will get them on the schedule and let them know everyone is responsible for their own preparedness.”
Rizzo said it is a good idea to have food, water and medicine for a month, to be prepared to camp out if necessary, and to know people in higher places when you live in a low lying tsunami danger zone.
For more information on disaster preparedness visit: http://www.redcross.org/oregon