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Wheeler Hotel steps up for guest safety

Jay Verburg of the Old Wheeler Hotel poses with two of the go bags they stock for guest use in case of an emergency. Photo: Emergency Volunteer Corps of Nehalem Bay

Following in the footsteps of Manzanita’s beachfront Ocean Inn, Wheeler’s Old Wheeler Hotel has stocked each of its rooms with an emergency go bag for guest use if a disaster strikes.

Assistant manager Jay Verburg said clearly-marked backpacks have been placed in each of the hotel’s nine rooms, with additional bags set aside for the innkeeper, owners, and one more for good measure.

Verburg said they had been thinking about emergency supplies for nearly a year. It was a frequent topic when they spoke with Paul Knight, a Wheeler resident and board member of the Emergency Volunteer Corps of Nehalem Bay.

Because the hotel serves a continental breakfast, Verburg said they knew they would always have some food available. But after attending an April emergency-planning meeting for area lodging owners, they decided to step up their preparedness.

“We thought we should have something more. Something easily accessible to guests so they can grab it and get out of here,” he said.

Since recommendations on what to stock in a Go Bag can grow overwhelming, Verburg turned to Jason Johnson, owner of Tonquin Trading Company in Seaside. “He slimmed the list down to the essentials,” Verburg said.

The Old Wheeler Hotel is ready to discuss emergency preparedness for lodging facilities with others in the business. “I’m happy to talk to anybody about why we chose to do this,” Verburg said.

“It is a scary thing when you consider some of the locations we’re in, and how long we may be trapped,” he added. “Two days, or say 72 hours of supplies, isn’t going to save the world, but it’s going to give a good start.”

While Manzanita’s Ocean Inn faces the ocean and would be most at risk in a tsunami, Wheeler could be subject to flooding and landslides.

The Old Wheeler Hotel Go Bags include a four-person first-aid kit, eight water packets, two 2,400-calorie food bars, two emergency blankets, two rain ponchos, two hand-warmers, and a 12-hour light stick. Attached to each bag is a laminated map showing routes to the two Wheeler community assembly sites closest to the hotel.

“You never know what you’re going to experience, or what’s going to have happen,” Verburg said. “So, we can at least be partially prepared for a negative event.”

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