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Frank Talk About Oregon Disaster Preparedness

It is rare for an elected official to speak frankly about disaster preparedness.

Most elected officials want the message being given to the general population that, "We are doing everything possible to be prepared for the next disaster." You can contrast that message with this one from Dennis Richardson, secretary of state for Oregon, Oregonians can help themselves, others by preparing now for disaster.

He rightly points out the challenges that Oregon faces when it comes to disaster readiness. Truth be told, much of what he wrote would apply to many other states, like Washington state to the north of Oregon. 

While everything in his op-ed isn't "quite right," like the fact that when someone goes to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) website, they won't find the standard of being prepared for two weeks. Instead, it will be the old, three-days, 72 hours that is the national message. While a trash bag of disaster supplies would be better than nothing, I'd like something people can find easier to carry.

What I do appreciate is that he is speaking out about a topic that most elected officials are silent about. It would be terrific to hear from other elected officials in other states, providing a frank assessment of their state's readiness and advocating for what needs to be done to fix the shortfall in resources and attention. 

Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.