EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been edited to reflect that the Okanogan Conservation District is not associated with Okanogan County in any way.
By Ann McCreary
With memories of last summer’s wildfire disaster still fresh, a campaign is getting underway to help residents of the Methow Valley prepare and protect themselves in an emergency.
The campaign, called MethowReady, will launch this Saturday (May 23) with a “Preparedness Fair” during the Farmers Market in Twisp.
The fair will be held in the Twisp Commons and provide information and materials to help local residents prepare for an emergency and protect themselves during disaster, said Sandi Scheinberg, preparedness planner for MethowReady.
The event will be held from 9 a.m.-noon and participants will include the Okanogan County Electric Cooperative, Okanogan County Fire District 6, Okanogan County Conservation District and Aero Methow Rescue Service. A drawing will be held for a hand-cranked emergency radio.
The MethowReady campaign is a project of the Methow Valley Long Term Recovery organization, created in the wake of last summers fires and mudslides.
The campaign’s goal is to have every resident of the Methow Valley be prepared with supplies for at least three days, and be self-sufficient in case of a disaster, emergency or loss of essential services.
“We will face another disaster or emergency situation, whether it’s a fire, mudslide or power outage. We just don’t know when,” said Cindy Button, executive director of Aero Methow Rescue Service and part of a team overseeing the MethowReady campaign.
“Being prepared means people will be able to cope better, be less stressed, and be more able to help neighbors in need,” Button said.
Methow Ready is helping neighbors organize themselves into groups to support each other and share resources during emergency situations.
One of the lessons learned from last summer’s experience is that emergency responders may not be able to help people immediately, and they may need to focus on their primary job of saving lives and property, Scheinberg said.
“When individuals are prepared, it frees up emergency responders to be able to do their jobs and focus on handling the emergency,” said Don Waller, Okanogan County Fire District 6 chief.
A neighborhood organizing process is getting underway, and individuals interested in starting a neighborhood group, or people who need help connecting with other neighbors can contact the organization’s new website at MethowReady.org or contact Scheinberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Getting prepared for disasters can seem like a big job, and many people don’t know where to start, so they never do, Scheinberg said.
“MethowReady is here to walk people through the steps. Our intention is by the end of the year that everyone in the Methow valley has taken action steps to be MethowReady,” she said.
Partners in the MethowReady campaign include Aero Methow Rescue Service, Carlton Complex Assistance Network, Lookout Coalition, Okanogan Conservation District, Okanogan County Electric Cooperative, Okanogan County Department of Emergency Management, Okanogan County Public Utility District, Fire District 6, Room One, the towns of Twisp and Winthrop, Twisp Police Department and Winthrop Marshal’s Office.
For more information visit MethowReady.org.