Be Prepared: Are you ready if disaster strikes?

EUGENE, Ore. - If a disaster hits, would you be prepared to take care of yourself, your family - even your neighbors - until help arrives?

And help could take some time: time and again, first responders - in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, New York after Superstorm Sandy, and Colorado after this month's floods - find themselves overwhelmed.

So borrow a slogan from the Boys Scouts: Be prepared.

The City of Eugene is offering classes to help households be prepared for a particularly wicked winter storm - or a massive but statistically likely Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.

"Know how to communicate with people and have an out-of-area contact," said Jason York, the city's emergency manager. "Have some food and water handy in your car and in your home to take care of people at a minimum of three days - but really recommend more - and really how to take care of yourself and neighbors so that you can help each other."

For rural residents, Lane County search and rescue coordinator John Miller urges basic survival skills. After an earthquake or other disaster, power oculd be out for days if not weeks in rural areas. It took weeks to restore power after the 1962 Columbus Day Storm.

Rural residents need to prepare to meet their basic needs.

"Air - got to be able to breath," Miller said. "Warmth is another major priority. If you can't stay warm, your body and brain can't function properly, so warmth is a big element and therefore food, clothing, hydration all come into effect."

To test your preparedness, the final class in the series will put you through a mock disaster exercise.

"We have a big exercise out of our fire and training center where they light things on fire and put out some debris and the students actually take what they've learned and apply it to that scenario," York said.

Want to get involved? Email or Phone 541-682-5665. For more information, visit the City of Eugene CERT website.