Letter Re: Just Three Days to Relief, Post-Disaster?

I read a good posting on the blog [by Bryan A.] that unfortunately made me chuckle. Those of us who are first responders (cops, firefighters, etc.) will confirm that the usual mantra of “three days” of preps is excessively optimistic. In fact, FEMA is quietly (or not so, depending on who you ask) telling folks a minimum of ten days. In a briefing last year by a major Puget Sound USAR director, he stated that in his opinion, 10 days is minimum. This is an actual Region 10 director, contrary to what the government says (who did respond to Hurricane Katrina). Three days for supplies to get to someplace is wholly dependant on the ability to get to the region. Far more days elapsed in Katrina affected regions due to the impassibility of so many roadways, especially into rural areas. In a briefing by a New Orleans, Louisiana police department SWAT officer, even their supplies were drowned by the toxic flooding, causing them to go well outside the area to acquire foodstuffs, fuel, etc. (and yes, causing some station houses to loot stores under the disgusting idea that it was for the greater good).

In the windstorm we experienced in the Seattle Metroplex area last winter, there were whole neighborhoods stranded and without out even power for anywhere from 3 to 14 days. Vehicles couldn’t even access some areas until power lines and trees could be cleaned up. One neighborhood in the city that I patrol in had power out for six days, and they were across the street from the city hall! They were the unlucky folks to be at the extreme end of a power grid.

When asked by folks, I warn them to plan for 15 days as a minimum. I get many shocked looks. A recent evaluation of the region showed that over 90% of folks didn’t even have the basic minimums (three days), as easily evidenced by the panic buys of the usual candles, matches, batteries, flashlights, fuel, etc. No wonder people seem shocked. Best Regards, – MP in Seattle