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Life happens fast — as can danger; be prepared for unexpected emergencies

2 weeks ready
Oregon Office of Emergency Management

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- September is National Preparedness Month. It’s a good reminder to be prepared for what life throws at you, ready or not. Just ask Mosier, Oregon, resident July Maus. 

July’s family – including her husband, four children, brother, sister-in-law, parents, grandmother and seven dogs – were literally in the line of fire on August 12, when the Mosier Creek wildfire ignited near their home.  It was just seven minutes from a too-close smoke sighting and phone call to safety.

In that short time, July herded kids and dogs in the car, grabbed a pre-packed box of critical papers and the pet “go-bags”, and sped away. Everyone was out. Everyone was safe. But their home, along with 35 other structures in the area, was destroyed.

It was more than quick thinking that saved 11 lives in seven short minutes. July and her family had a preparedness plan, and they practiced it. Together. It was part of their everyday lifestyle so that when the fire came, it was a plan they just put into action. 

“Our hope is that by sharing our story, we help others understand this can happen to anyone,” July said. “If we hadn’t prepared and practiced as a family, this could be a very different story. We’re extremely grateful we are alive, and we’re safe. People are amazing. Friends, family and perfect strangers have stepped up to help us out and we’ve been well taken care of. We’re so appreciative of the outpouring of support.”

Andrew Phelps is the director of Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management. He’s a proponent of the state’s 2 Weeks Ready program and notes that being prepared for the many hazards Oregonians may encounter can be the difference between being a survivor and being a disaster victim. 

“National Preparedness Month is an opportunity for every Oregonian to learn  how they can best prepare their family for all types of emergencies – from a pandemic, like COVID-19, to a flood or earthquake, to a wildfire or other large-scale emergency,” he said. “Emergencies don’t wait for you to be ready, so it’s important to take steps to prepare today.” 

July and her family are a resilient group. Their next steps are to clean up and rebuild. From their experience, they offer these simple tips to help others practice preparedness:

  • Be ready.
  • Have a plan. 
  • Have items in an accessible spot.
  • Practice.
  • Be ready to leave everything behind.

National Preparedness Month was launched in 2004, to promote family and community disaster planning. Program messages include: Make a plan; Build a kit; Be informed. 

Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued a proclamation in support of National Preparedness Month 2020. The decree notes that federal, state and local officials, and the private sector, are working to prevent and respond to all types of emergencies, and how adequate emergency preparation is vital to the health and well-being of every Oregonian. 

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