Lessons in service and preparedness

An emergency can happen anywhere, at any time and to anyone

Walt McAllister, Traffic Safety Program Manager
Walt McAllister, Traffic Safety Program Manager

The last few weeks have been a painful reminder that an emergency can happen anywhere, at any time and to anyone.

Walt McAllister has worked at ODOT for the last 30 years. Like so many Oregonians, he was forced to evacuate during the Oregon wildfires.

Able to get out safely – he landed at the Red Cross shelter in Silverton. From there, he immediately went to work – not just for us, but for his community as well. That resiliency and care for others is inspiring.

September is National Preparedness Month. Today, many of our communities are still dealing with, and reeling from the presence of wildfire. Our preparations and go-kits were put to the test. For some, it sparked a sense of urgency to begin preparations.

Slowly, we’re beginning to return or take assessment of our next steps. We don’t exactly know or have the ability to control what the future brings, but we can do our best to prepare based on experience (ours or from others who’ve been down that path before). That’s what preparedness is about.

We’re now halfway between summer and winter. Even with fire in our presence, we’re also looking forward – inspired by Walt who even in the midst of chaos – sought out to find the next task at hand. It will be winter soon.

For some, we’ll be returning back to areas that no longer look the same. For others, we may be taking new routes unfamiliar to us. We’ll need to be prepared for these trips – mentally, spiritually, emotionally of course, but also more practically.

If you found yourself building a go-kit for your home, did you also consider one for your car? A base kit is always a good idea, but in September we can begin to think about our kit more seasonally for winter. You can find good ideas for building a car kit by visiting ready.gov/car or looking at the Prepare! Guide from Red Cross Cascades Region

We also have a checklist on our Winter Driving Guide, available in the Winter Travel section of our TripCheck site.

Let’s also take care of those around us. For some right now, this is an emotionally draining task. Disaster trauma is real. It also may simply be one of many things needing replaced. Building a go-kit for someone else is a wonderful way to help out a loved one and to show them that you value their safety and comfort. Gloves with a note tucked inside them, a small teddy bear for when the road ahead is uncertain or scary, roadmaps (the printed kind!) to help them find their way again. Being prepared is practical yes, but it’s also a way to show our care for others. #beready #nationalpreparednessmonth