By David Dillon
Elected and appointed officials from throughout north Tillamook County gathered Mar. 21 at the Nehalem Bay Fire and Rescue District station for a summit meeting to discuss community-wide emergency preparedness.
The summit was called in response to the results of a regional readiness survey conducted in 2015 by the Emergency Volunteer Corps of Nehalem Bay. The detailed survey, conducted online or face-to-face with nearly 500 households, revealed that only 14% of them felt they were well prepared for any emergency.
Brian McMahon, Public Information Officer for the Northwest Incident Management Team, was the featured speaker for the gathering. That team responded to the Mar. 22, 2014 Oso, Wash. landslide which killed 43 people.
McMahon discussed the Oso incident with photos, videos, and lists of “lessons learned” by emergency responders and the government agencies involved. Of particular importance, he said, was advance planning done by cities and agencies, and positive relationships established between those organizations.
“Building a resilient Nehalem Bay/North County requires the involvement of the whole community – including government and agencies – working together to increase individual and community preparedness,” said Linda Kozlowski, president of the Emergency Volunteer Corps, which hosted the gathering.
“Our community will only be fully prepared when each household and neighborhood is prepared, we have trained volunteers ready to respond, and we have drilled and practiced to verify our preparedness,” she added.
The Mar. 21 summit ended with the participants agreeing to complete an assessment of their own preparedness, and to gather again in May to report results.
The summit attendees included: Manzanita – Garry Bullard, Mayor; Jerry Taylor, City Manager; Dan Weitzel, Public Works Director; Erik Harth, Chief of Police; Nehalem – Dale Shafer, City Manager; Wheeler – Stevie Burden, Mayor; Geoff Wulschlager, City Manager; Heidi Wilcox Siglin, Councilor; Nehalem Bay Fire and Rescue – Perry Sherbaugh, Chief; Walt Covert, Board Chair; Bob Forrester, Board; Chuck Bridge, Board; Nehalem Bay State Park – Gary McDaniel; Nehalem Bay Wastewater Agency – John Handler, Board; Zaddach Creek Water District – Ted Wendell, Board Chair; Rinehart Clinic – Marge Jozsa, CEO; Adventist Medical Center – Eric Swanson; Red Cross – Malachai Hindle; and the Emergency Volunteer Corps of Nehalem Bay – Linda Kozlowski, President; Peter Nunn, Vice President, Betsy Chase, facilitator.