Disaster kit good terrorism, 5-day storm
March 24, 2003
Nora Murphy need only look to her past to persuade her to build an emergency kit while the nation’s at war.
The 20-year resident of South Lake Tahoe remembers scurrying to bag her money as a cashier at Harveys Resort Casino in 1979 when a bomb threat turned into a detonation.
A decade later, Murphy lived in Oakland during the Loma Prieta earthquake.
“I didn’t have a clue about emergency preparedness. But I’m more aware now,” she said, adding the 7.1 magnitude earthquake changed her life forever.
She has assembled a kit that includes canned goods, flashlight, blankets, radio and batteries, among other items.
This is a practice South Shore emergency officials want the public to take to heart because a disaster is a disaster in their eyes.
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“That’s what it takes is (for) someone to live through it,” said Dorothy McGuire, coordinator of the Lake Tahoe Basin chapter of the American Red Cross.
The remote nature of Lake Tahoe in relation to a military conflict on the other side of the globe fails to instill a sense of urgency to residents going about their business.
Murphy represents one in four people on South Shore streets who would consider stocking up or creating a kit while the nation falls under a high-security alert status.
McGuire said she’s disheartened by the informal poll because emergency officials want people to be prepared — much like the call for readiness during the turn of the millennium.
She recommends residents use the war as an excuse to have a kit ready to support them through other emergencies.
“Our biggest hazard is a Hazmat problem with a truck overturning on the highway,” she said.
Aside from a slight rush on duct tape at Scotty’s Hardware, retailers said they’ve seen no evidence of people stocking up on goods.
Emergency officials recommend having five days worth of emergency goods packed up and at hand, as if Tahoe was forced to endure a five-day snowstorm.
“There’s been no run on anything,” Safeway Store Manager Carl Markland said.
Emergency officials said they understand the lack of motivation for most residents who believe chances are slim South Lake Tahoe would become a target.
However, there are other concerns.
Emergency officials want residents to be prepared for an influx of people from the Bay Area if there’s a terrorist attack in the cities. A mass exodus to the hills may drain the region’s resources like food and water in the grocery stores.
“If you’ve got enough food for two or three days, you won’t need to worry about this,” McGuire said, also advising people to select food that doesn’t dehydrate them.
“And don’t forget about your pets,” she said.
She emphasized placing a leash and carrier in the kit and necessities such as important papers that include prescriptions and birth certificates.
She also noted that people should try to make their kits mobile, in case they’re forced to evacuate. The Red Cross even has a mobile unit — an emergency response vehicle it obtained last fall.
The city has no bunker facility and the high water table from the lake makes basements few and far between on the South Shore. But there are several shelters — including all schools and churches, the Elks Club, South Lake Tahoe Recreation Center and Lake Tahoe Airport. The Office of Emergency Services selects the sites used and passes the information on to the Red Cross.
McGuire advises in times of emergency that people tune in to local radio stations such as KOWL/KRLT and KTHO to receive instructions.
It’s recommended to also have a disaster plan in place in case of emergency — whatever type may occur in the area. It should also outline where family members are expected to meet.
The state will launch its first weeklong disaster preparedness curriculum for California’s K-12 schools in October, Gov. Gray Davis’ office announced last week. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the FLASH program was created through a partnership with the Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Salvation Army and California Broadcasters Association as well as the state offices of Emergency Services and Service and Volunteerism.
The Red Cross recommends the following items placed in a disaster preparedness kit:
— One gallon of water per person per day
— Ready-to-eat, canned meats, fruits and vegetables
— Canned juices, milk, soup
— Paper cups and plates
— Flashlight and extra batteries
— Cash or traveler’s checks
— Non-electric can opener
— Paper and pencil
— Map of the area
— Toilet paper
— Plastic garbage bags
— Sturdy shoes
— Thermal underwear
— Rain gear
— Hat and gloves
— Extra eye glasses
— First-aid kit with gauze pads, adhesive tape, scissors, tweezers, antiseptic, safety pins, latex gloves and needle
–Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org