Though they are keeping a lower profile this September, the grass-roots group Sisters Country: Prepared and Ready (SCPAR) is still trying to get its message of common-sense preparedness out to the Sisters community.
September is National Emergency Preparedness Month, and for the past two years SCPAR has hosted a preparedness fair to mark the occasion and educate the community. This year they opted for a more low-key approach, but the message remains as urgent as ever.
Disasters from wildfires to weather-related emergencies across the country have demonstrated the value of individual and family preparedness. Having an emergency plan and supplies to get you through several days or weeks of potential isolation and disruption can mean the difference between being a victim in need of rescue and being a self-reliant survivor capable of protecting your family and helping your neighbors when times get tough.
Current preparedness doctrine encourages people to "shelter in place" during emergencies. In other words, local folks should have enough supplies of food, water, medicines and the materials for day-to-day living on hand to ride out several days of an emergency situation in their own home.
"We want every September for people to think every year about making a plan, getting a kit, understanding what shelter-in-place is," said SCPAR co-founder Jack McGowan. "Something is going to occur that's going to (create) a major disruption in our lives for a period of time."
That could be one of Sisters Country's severe cold snaps, where power is knocked out for days. And researchers are increasingly concerned about the disruptions entailed by an inevitable major subduction zone earthquake off the Oregon Coast.
While Central Oregon will not bear the brunt of the immediate effects of such a disaster, the state- and region-wide disruptions to the power grid and to transportation would certainly have a significant impact in Sisters Country.
The reality is that, while technology has enhanced our lives in many ways, it has also made us increasingly dependent on a complex supply chain and infrastructure that is vulnerable to disruption by everything from weather to civil unrest.
Lutton's Ace Hardware, Sisters Drug Co. and Bi-Mart are all participating in National Emergency Preparedness Month efforts. They have put up in-store displays that feature information and check-lists for emergency preparedness supplies, and they offer those supplies conveniently, so it's easy to put together a kit.
"All you do is go in and get the check-off list and get the things you need," McGowan said.
It's easy and relatively inexpensive to add incrementally to your kit.
McGowan emphasizes that a focus on preparedness does not require going to extremes of end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenarios.
"It's not about that," he said. "It's just a realistic aspect of our lives as we become more aware of the fragility of our infrastructure."