People Are Oblivious and/or Don't Care About Disasters

Perplexed and bewildered by no interest in disaster risk or readiness.

by Eric Holdeman / October 31, 2016

It has not even been 10 days since The Seattle Times ran their latest article on Washington State Not Ready for Mega Quake.

The results, that I can tell, are in, and the results are "blah!"

I happened to be at the Seattle Emergency Operations Center (EOC) just yesterday and I asked their public education staff about what type of interest they have seen from the article. "Have you seen an uptick in people looking for disaster preparedness materials? Have people been contacting you to inquire about the city of Seattle's capabilities to respond to a big disaster?" The answer to both questions was nada, nothing, zip, no surge in requests for any information. One thing you can do is read the comments to the Seattle Times story. They are revealing ...

Now remember the exercise referenced was the Cascadia Earthquake that was the subject of the New Yorker magazine article, The Really Big One, which engendered so much interest about 15 months ago.

For this part of the United States, the only thing we can hope for is another earthquake hitting somewhere else in the lower 48 that "might" generate some interest on the part of legislators and average citizens. The closer the earthquake is to Washington state, the more impact it will have on people who live here. While Portland probably doesn't want to volunteer for that mission, they would be the best choice. If the earthquake happens in California, then people will think, "Oh, that's California, they have earthquakes. We are lucky to live where we do!"

Then there is the fact that approximately 1,000 people a week are moving to Washington state. I'm very confident that 99 percent of them have no idea of our earthquake risks here in this state.

For emergency managers, it is easy to become discouraged. My advice is, just continue to put one foot in front of the other and do what you can do in the sphere of influence that you have. One person can make a difference!