Everyone should be prepared for natural disasters

As the nation struggles to grasp the enormity of the disaster wrought by Hurricane Harvey and braces for massive Hurricane Irma, which is due to hit Florida this weekend, people living in places like Whidbey Island probably feel pretty safe by comparison.

But while Whidbey Island is out of harm’s way when it comes to hurricanes, it’s not immune to the impacts of natural disaster. The earthquake in Mexico Friday and the tragic loss of life should be a reminder of our vulnerabilities.

Fault lines crisscross the island. Tsunami-warning signs are posted on the shoreline. Homes perch on bluffs susceptible to landslides. There will inevitably be wind storms and power outages.

It’s not time to be scared. It’s time to be prepared.

One new tool in the perennial effort to get residents prepared is Island County’s new emergency preparedness app, which Island County’s director of emergency management showed off during a a Safety and Emergency Prep Fair in Freeland this week. The app streamlines the process of figuring out what one needs to do in order to sufficiently prepare for a large event that could strand Whidbey residents.

The department’s website, www.islandcountywa.gov/DEM/Pages/Home.aspx, also has comprehensive preparedness advice, including information about the FEMA’s Map Your Neighborhood program.

Those who missed the preparedness event can attend a Neighborhood Preparedness Fair being held 1-4 p.m. today, Sept. 9, at at the Family Bible Church in Oak Harbor. It will feature free samples of long-shelf-life foods, a free thermal blanket and information from local experts. Officials from Island County Sheriff’s Office, Island County Department of Emergency Management and Parents of Special Needs Children will be there to answer questions.