Monday, March 28, 2011

Disaster Anniversaries and Reflection

We have a number of major disaster anniversaries in March that spur us to think about why emergency preparedness exists. Here are some past incidents that happened in March and what has come out of them:

* Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (New York City, March 25, 1911): a fire at a factory killed 146 and injured 71, mostly due to a lack of safety plans and escape routes. This tragedy led to a number of changes, including requirements for fire exits and proper escapes for taller buildings.

* Anchorage, Alaska Earthquake and Tsunami (1964): this 9.2 magnitude quake, the second-largest in recorded history, made the Pacific Northwest more aware to the dangers of a tsunami as its waves swept coastal beaches and killed several people. The event would lead the federal government to assist more with major disaster recovery and gave coastal areas awareness to the need for tsunami planning (although it would take more recent events, such as the Indonesian and Japanese quakes and tsunamis, to reinforce the notion).

* Three-Mile-Island Nuclear Plant Partial Meltdown (March 28, 1979): this nuclear disaster, which today pales in comparison to events at Chernobyl and in Japan, really shook the world into considering the worst-case scenarios for nuclear plants and forced emergency managers and plant operators to take more time in properly planning for these types of events. No deaths directly came from this event, although legal claims have been made that the release of radioactive materials did have an effect on the health of some in the area, especially children.

It should not take people dying to get us to wake up and realize that we must plan for the worst while hoping for the best. It is the job of Columbia County Emergency Management to help make sure our community is ready for whatever may come our way. A little money and time spent now saves lots of money and lives down the road.

Emergency planning at home or work does not take that much time to do--it just takes a little effort! For more on how to be ready for whatever comes your way, visit .