FRS/GMRS Radio Primer UPDATE!

FRS/GMRS Radio Primer UPDATE!

This is an update to the previously posted FRS/GMRS Radio Primer article by John Beaston.

In its May 2017 meeting, the FCC made significant changes to the FRS and GMRS services. These rule changes are basically good news for NETs. Here’s a summary of the changes:

With the stroke of the pen, most hand-held, walkie-talkie combo FRS/GMRS radios will be reclassified as FRS-only radios. This was accomplished by raising the FRS maximum power level regulation to 2 watts (which covers the HIGH power setting on many radios) and by expanding the allowed FRS channels to include all 22 channels. These regulatory changes fold most existing radios under the FRS umbrella. And since the FRS service has no license requirement, any NET will be able to use any of the 22 channels.

What happened to GMRS? Well, it’s still there for those wanting higher power levels, detachable antennas and/or repeater operation. The GMRS channels now overlap the FRS channels so the two services can inter-operate on all 22 channels. GMRS users can still use up to 50 watts, have detachable antennas, and operate repeaters. As previously, a no-exam, $65 license is required but the license term has been extended from 5 to 10 years. As before, a call sign is issued and transmissions must be identified every 15 minutes. Basically, the potential for unwanted interference is so much greater with 50 watts, repeaters, and the potential of larger, higher antennas, the FCC wanted to be able to identify a user if it became necessary.

Note that higher power combo radios (such as the Midland GXT1000) and radios supporting repeater operation (such as the Motorola MS350R) will be reclassified as GMRS. A GMRS license would be required to operate these radios.

Eventually there will be no more combo FRS/GMRS radios. Any particular radio will be classified for one service or the other. The new rules took effect at the end of Sept 2017. Some provisions for manufacturers are phased in over 18 month to two years. This allows manufacturers to clear inventory, adjust marketing and develop new products.

Special Note on wide-coverage radios for NET

BaoFeng (and other wide-coverage walkie-talkie) radios are still not legal for transmitting on FRS or GMRS channels. The FCC ruling acknowledges that such radios exist however they explicitly deferred allowing their use on FRS or GMRS.

 

Written by John Beaston
Overlook NET ARO

What I’ve Learned About Water Storage

What I’ve Learned About Water Storage

The part of my personal preparedness that has taken me the longest to complete, and given me the most confusion, is water storage. I’ll share what I’ve learned so far, to help all the other confused procrastinators out there.

First I tried buying water in gallon containers or saving extra water bottles. A few got leaks as they got jostled around during camping trips, and I discovered their thin skins are best kept safe inside sturdy plastic containers and not moved a whole lot.

My ultimate goal was to store tap water in large quantities because of my aversion to paying for overpriced water from a corporation that might be taking it from a community that needs it more (see: Nestle/Cascade Locks water disputes). We have great water quality in Portland, anyway. But I wasn’t sure what kind of containers to use or how to sanitize them properly.

As I had a lot of glass mason jars on hand already, I decided to “can” my water. I used a sanitizing spray that I’d bought for kombucha-making on the jars and their lids. I filled them with water and put them inside a very heavy duty plastic bin from Home Depot in my basement. A couple months later, after learning more about the importance of sanitizing, I started doubting the integrity of my jar/lid seal (they didn’t have rubber seals), and decided to try a different method.

I found myself at REI with some dividends to spend and a sale going on. I knew I wanted to get some preparedness supplies, so I got the only water containers left – two 14-gallon containers that were quite large. I knew I needed to get up to that 14-gallon minimum because of the 1 gallon/day/person for two weeks rule of thumb. When I got home, I filled them up with water and left them in the basement. Later on, I learned you have to sanitize the containers with a touch of bleach before you add the water. So I poured them out, let them dry, and started over.

Eventually my boyfriend and I took the time to do it right. I got my instructions from the video How to Store Your Own Emergency Supply of Water, which was made by the Regional Water Provider’s Consortium. After following their instructions, we had our own take on things:

WHAT WE LEARNED:

  • It would be best to get water containers that fit into the kitchen sink so you can pour it directly from the tap into the container. Mine were too large, so we had to sanitize a pitcher, then pour it into the container. Also, I didn’t realize how heavy they would be once filled – I could barely carry them. Water is 8 lbs a gallon, so you know, you do the math.

  • Alternatively, a hose connection could reach from the spigot to the container. Ideally, a split connection with a timer, so you could just set it and come back to it when it was done. I know that homebrew stores have hoses because I dabbled with kombucha making, and that’s partially how I started learning about water storage.

  • You may have to do this sanitizing process every six months for the rest of your life (see below). So you should label your containers with the date you filled them. Since this process is time-consuming, streamline it as much as possible. Get that hose, or smaller container, so it’s easier for you to do it. We didn’t think the step of rinsing with soapy water was really necessary since the bleach rinse comes right after. The only way to tell if the sanitizing really worked is to check the water for scuz and taste it the next time you repeat the process in six months.

  • If you’re bottling water yourself, many recommend that you change it out every 6-12 months. Or you could add 1/8 teaspoon of chlorine bleach per gallon of water stored. This precaution will protect you against any lingering organisms that may have been inadvertently missed during the cleaning and/or filling process.

  • You don’t need to change it out every six months if you’re using commercially bottled water. Plastic may leach into your water over time, but in a true emergency it’s better to have more water than less, and short-term exposure to plastic will probably be the least of your concerns.

  • Most of us need to drink about two quarts of water per day to stay healthy. That’s half a gallon. When you’re stressed and/or working hard, you need even more to stay healthy. Living on a gallon of water per day (for drinking, cooking, and cleaning) is actually pretty challenging. While 14 gallons per person is a good starting goal, consider storing more. Much more. You’ll likely never say, “I stored too much water.”

  • If the thought of rotating your water supply overwhelms you or in any way prevents you from storing more water than you currently have – forget about it. Just get more and let it sit. You can always add bleach to it after a disaster strikes if it seems icky.

The photos seen here are of my boyfriend Matt filling the containers in the kitchen. We had to sanitize a pitcher to get the water in, which was inefficient. We’re considering getting a hose attachment. Matt puts the containers with our food storage, camping supplies, twin buckets, and my NET gear, under our basement stairs. The wine rack is also part of the emergency supplies 🙂

Want to help encourage others to store water? Take the #14GallonChallenge!

Katy WolfWritten by Katy Wolf
Team Leader, Boise/Eliot/Humboldt Neighborhood Emergency Team
Exercise & Training Coordinator, Portland Bureau of Emergency Management

Japan, Six Years Later

Japan, Six Years Later

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoorMy name is Mitch Bixby, and I’m the Team Leader for the Overlook Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET). I’m currently traveling in Tohoku, Japan with a group from Portland State University. We’re here as part of a class called Learn from Japan’s Earthquake and Tsunami Crisis. We’re exploring the areas most impacted by the Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE).

Please join us for a discussion about the trip from 3-4:30pm on July 15 at PSU’s Smith Student Union, Room 296/8. Check out the event flyer and RSVP here if you plan to attend.

Below are excerpts from my personal blog. Contact me at OverlookPrepares@gmail.com with questions.

Off and Running

On Monday we were in Sendai, a Portland-sized city up the northern coast. Our class of nine spent the day at Tohoku University, one of several schools in Sendai and a leader is disaster planning for Tohoku (this eight-prefecture region) and for Japan. We’ve heard quite a lot this week about the Tohoku Recovery (meaning the three affected coastal prefectures) and how difficult it’s been. Japan’s planning processes needed to be completely re-written in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE). It took a year to sketch out what planning now looked like, and another year to finalize plans. This period of adjustment, while critical for making wise choices, also prolonged people’s stay in temporary housing. Also, as folks settle in their “temporary” housing, going back to home communities becomes increasingly unlikely. The story repeats itself everywhere we go: the kids are in a new school, the fish patty company’s old buyers have moved on, and there are no jobs in the fixed-up neighborhood.

But without residents, what business would commit to returning? In an extreme example, after six years, the town of Rikuzen-takata’s grocery store will re-open next month. It’s a crazy game of chicken and egg that the Pacific Northwest really wants to get ahead of. Inability to keep people around Portland is a thing that gets talked about a lot in some circles. There’s no easy solution, but surely there must be conversations we can have and ways of prioritizing we can agree to in advance.

Yeah. And that’s the light, fluffy stuff. In the afternoon, we all piled into the bus and drove into Fukushima prefecture. We were headed to the small town of Iwaki, but took the, uh, scenic route. Driving through the little village of Namie, you could tell it was deserted. And then we started seeing roadblocks. Then some with guards. Then… are those radiation detectors? Oh, yes. And there, 20 miles off towards the ocean, is Fukushima Daiichi (“Reactor #1”) – five or six stories of lethal beige. And how many acres of radioactive waste disposal bags, snuggled in next to neighboring rice fields? We lost count. More to tell on Daiichi, but that’s for a Powerpoint. Suffice it to say, it was a very weird, very surreal bus ride.

Coming Up: The little seawall project, or “What does $106 million really get me?” Don’t go anywhere.

A Seawall in Usuiso

Image may contain: sky, ocean, beach, outdoor, nature and waterIt’s a breezy day here on the Tohoku coast. I’m looking out at the ocean from the re-emerging Rikuzen-takata. One thing I’ve noticed (among many), is the widespread use of flags. Tour guides use them to lead their groups, construction sites use them everywhere. They’re usually the long and narrow type, on 6′ poles, now common on the Oregon coast and elsewhere. I gather this type was long-used by Japanese armies, so not really surprising to see them here. Perhaps more odd that it seems familiar.

I left the telling of things at Monday night, in the coastal city of Ishinomaki.  After a huge Japanese dinner on Monday, featuring such unsuspected delicacies as fried chicken cartilage and daikon root soup, we spent Tuesday touring a new seawall in Usuiso.  Pre-GEJE, it was a popular beach town, with good surfing, a little fishing fleet, and several hundred families.  Six years later, the new, higher levees include a large, newly-forested buffer zone and park, but the 14 surviving houses are srill all alone.  Surrounding hills have been flattened to provide fill for the control structures and a flat place for the re-drawn, smaller lots.  Yeah, redrawn.  It’s a kind of ’eminent domain’ called Land Readjustment that allows the government to redivide people’s lots for common structure.  Relatively rare before,  it’s now being done all up and down the coast.  I don’t think folks are necessarily excited about it, but it is what it is.  The relationship between the Japanese and their federal government is somewhat different…possibly more accepting…than in the States.

Our morning tour with the engineers revealed some of the amazing work that’s being done to move and compact each additional foot of soil.  The hillsides all around have gutters and drains, meant to keep them from saturating.  Those drains run right through the new subdivision, picking up overflow from each home’s septic tank before entering a common pipe that drains into the ocean.  Apparently, it’s common practice in less dense areas to deal with sewer this way.  The cost of connecting all, or any, the remote corners of Japan would certainly be huge.  Better to save sewage treatment for cities.  Who here works for Portland’s sewer bureau?  Oh, that’d be me…

During our break, Josh (our program coordinator) and Steve (from Arbor Lodge) and I walked along the seawall, which is now 7 meters high, around 23 feet.  And, while it’s impressive and while it’s low enough that people behind can look over and SEE a tsunami coming (an important criticism of some other seawalls), we couldn’t help but look across the road at the hills and think:  ‘ooo.  It would suck to  climb those.’  It seems there’s still a bit of glibness, some off-handed casualness in the discussion of these large projects.  “Save all that money,” the argument goes.  “Just make people go up.”  Mmm. Easy to say.

After lunch we heard from a guy on Usuiso’s Recovery Committee, who talked about how the recovery was going.  Interesting to hear how the local efforts developed, but, as we left, we stopped at  a shrine to the townspeople who had died.  He followed us, and began telling us about some of the names on the list.  He was remarkably stoic: as a volunteer firefighter, that’s kind of par for the course.  But, these are hard stories and mostly about the kids he had known, and, in some cases, had to retrieve from the wreckage.  Suffice it to say, these were the stories we expected to hear on this excursion, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

After returning to Sendai for the night, we heard from Tohoku University students and faculty Wednesday morning, before heading off to Rikuzen-takata in the afternoon.  More later…

Who Are These People, Anyway?

Yep, still alive over here!  Busy few days, and some minor plan shifts…

As folks start to ask more questions about the week, I realized I’ve never really introduced our class. As near as I can tell, this one-week class was the pilot for future field trips as PSU’s Hatfield School of Government develops a community disaster resilience specialization within their masters of public administration (MPA). The intention is to repeat this trip, for students and not-exactly-students like me, every year.

So, leading the trip were Dr. Masami Nishishiba, department chair and bigwig on community and organizational structure, and Dr. Hiro Ito, professor of economics with a focus on global economics. Obviously, this is grossly simplifies their interests and talents, so, my apologies. Did I mention they’re both awesome? Josh from Hatfield also joined us as program coordinator/’group photo herder extraordinaire and badly needs a vacation right about now. All three were raised in Japan, and all did substantial amounts of translation (both verbal and cultural).

The 9 of us were:
–me [with some preparedness/NET background and a smattering of other stuff]
–Barb [working on continuity plans for Portland Parks, is a FEMA reservist and professional badass]
–Kate [also working on her masters at PSU, she speaks Japanese, so we bugged her a lot]
–Evan [wrapping up his degree in Japanese Studies; bugged HIM a lot, too]
–Robin [retired from social work, daughter works with Josh;  always ready with a question]
–Larry [nearly retired emergency manager from Medford; always ready with a story, usually about being a paramedic in San Francisco in the ’70s…which, uh…that’s a different blog]
–Steve [a fellow NET from the next neighborhood over, he’s a construction manager for a local contracting firm, also in grad school]
–Rob [an almost-former architect working on his masters, with a really good camera usually in hand and an eye for detail]

In some important ways, this felt like a bit of a supergoup, with everyone chipping in some key insight or expertise.  There was nowhere we went where someone didn’t say, “oh, you know what this reminds me of…?”  And everyone got to be that person regularly.  I found that impressive and kind of thrilling.    It was also a group that stayed loose all week [although Mitchy got a little frazzled that last day or so…sorry, guys]. Mostly folks were just fun.  It doesn’t always work like that….

Is the Road Supposed To Do That?

Image may contain: one or more people, tree, plant and outdoorSo, back to the tale at hand, where I left off on Wednesday, 6/22, with a brief sketch of the morning in Sendai before going back to the coast.

Our presentation is Wednesday, and I’ve talked with Masami about this, were not good. Some scheduling goofs, sure, and some language stuff, maybe, but no coherent structure, even in the handouts. For me, it gets back to: what kind of information do the Japanese have to give, and what kind of information do we Portlanders need? Obviously, there’s no perfect overlap, so our challenge  as participants is to sort the two out. Personally, I’ve been trying to look at all of this through a NET lens; some talks have fared better than others. Our Wednesdays speakers have done intriguing work in the aftermath, but I struggle to find the relevance to Portland. Labor trends in Northern Japan, no matter how extensive the surveys, just…. I’m still working on it. Someone else in the group may very well be thinking “Oh, you know what that reminds me of?”

After a quick lunch, we jumped in our crazy little buslet, our demi-bus, our busette, and motored up to the mountain road to Rikuzen-takata. I’m putting in a hyphen that isn’t normally there, because it makes it clearer to my English-reading eyes where the pronunciation break is. In case you were wondering.

The trip up to the turnoff was hair-raising, even for me, because the bus’s suspension was so shot that, at highway speeds, any lane change or course correction caused the back of the bus to roll madly from side to side, to the VISIBLE consternation of our fellow motorists. Official protests from within the bus were lodged and received….

Fortunately, the bus behaved better at lower speeds and, once we turned off into the mountains, there was no doubting this road’s intention to have us drive at lower speeds. Which gave us a better look at the farms, the forests, the road up ahead/down below…

It’s worth noting here how much rice is grown in Japan. I’d never given it much thought, but apparently Japan is self-sufficient for rice, if not much else. The paddies are everywhere (EVERYwhere), including stair-stepped up these mountainsides. I’ve seen a bit of corn and some clover cover crops, but so far, it has been 98% rice. It’s like driving through Iowa, except I’d expect to see some soy even there. Here…nope. Is it possible that it’s being imported from Iowa?

This was also the road that will have inspired a post on native/invasive plants in Japan. There’s just no escaping it. OR knotweed. I don’t want to talk about it right now.

But I will.

So, this is the road with real switchbacks, but also something I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before: a corkscrew. The road descends off a pass, goes out into the valley on its concrete stilty piers, and then drops down under itself to continue down the valley. It just seemed so random and almost theme-parky, especially where they closed our lane for construction at the very bottom. I wish I’d had the presence of mind to take a picture, but I don’t evem know if that’d capture it. Too bad Barb slept through it. Sleeps on buses motoring through hairpin turns: Barb’s pretty hardcore.

As we made it through the mountains to the coast, the rain intensified, making our arrival tour pretty soggy. But that’s more related to other Rikuzen-takata stuff from Thursday. Stay tuned…

A Boost in Rikuzen-Takata

And we thought the seawall project in Usuiso was mammoth. And it is. $106 million is a lot of rolled quarters. But compared to Rikuzen-takata, that’s exactly what it is. It’s sofa change. Steve estimated the dirt required to raise the downtown by 12 meters (38-40 feet) would cost about a billion dollars, assuming downtown was, what, a square mile? Less?

When we arrived Wednesday evening, our planned tour of some key sites mostly got rained out. But we did stop at a service area, unusual to our eyes in that it featured grandstand-style seating, looking out over the… I wasn’t sure. Here it is in the rain (see photo right).

It’s about a 4-story concrete structure, and way up on the top, even above those slit windows, on the tiny roof of this thing, two guys survived the tsunami. Because the water wasn’t QUITE that high. It’s one of the scarier things I can think of, suddenly being a mile “offshore” in the middle of the ocean, when the only thing you know you can do on your own behalf is ‘stay put.’ And that might not be enough, either.

The other things on our tour would’ve been the Miracle Tree, the one surviving pine of an original 70,000. You can see the new seawall in the background (see photo left).

And we also would’ve seen the middle school where the teacher decided, given the duration of the earthquake, to lead students to higher ground beyond the designated meeting place. The designated location was, in fact, overwhelmed, but all the students were safe somewhere else, thanks to someone not following the rules. Mmm.

So, the leading advice from folks on the coast: run like hell when the ground stops shaking. Even after the new seawall, the new tidal gate, the newly-lifted downtown, that’s still the takeaway: go outside and git.

Because around here, that’s apparently easier said than done. It didn’t help that there had been a handful of false alarms, including just two days earlier. It sounds like many people blew it off. I wonder if the Oregon coast would have an equal but opposite reaction, of full-blown panicked dithering, that would amount to essentially the same result. I’d like to think not, but with mid-summer tourists around?

Next up: the value of NET training!

Hurtling Toward the “Finish”

So, I left off in Rikuzentakata, where mostly we heard from folks talking about surviving or rebuilding from a tsunami. The Japanese are pretty good at dealing with earthquakes; it was pointed out more than once that, without the tsunami, the damage and loss of life wouldn’t have been nearly as severe. The tsunami was much tougher.

This is one of those times of sorting out the overlap between what they had to offer and what we really need. Tsunami strategy translates easily to the Oregon coast, but for Portland, it’s not as clear. What other surprise risks do we need to prepare for? Uhh… if we knew….

We did hear from a firefighter, a cool guy we all said we wanted to go for a beer with. He worked for 51 straight days because 25% of their staff died helping people. We all kind of stared. That’s a conflict. That’s THE conflict for NET, but even more for the pros: Do your job fully and pay the price, or hold back and be around to help with the aftermath. Cruel choices.

I think that’s the place our afternoon exercise was coming from: practice making cruel choices, to see how we react. Unfortunately for the class, the exercise wasn’t probably robust enough to get us to the level of panic. Larry, who worked ambulances in the Bay Area during Loma Prieta, was completely unfazed, as was Barb, our FEMA reservist. But even the rest of us were kind of waiting for the stuff to get really horrible. Felt bad for the lady running it, ’cause her exercise had clearly unhinged previous groups. She certainly gave us things to think about, especially given her time in the GEJE aftermath, but I think she also learned a bunch from us.

Friday morning we heard more from city planners about reconstruction, and then headed down the coast to Ishinomaki. Ishinomaki is a city of about 100,000 people, and so more like Portland. There, we heard from one of the city’s disaster managers at the time, a practical man and (understandably) now retired. He talked a bit about shelters (had identified 16, now 100, all reinforced concrete) where they store supplies, like meals (had 12,000; now 50,000, mostly at government expense). Except, here’s the thing. If this happens again, they expect 70,000 displaced people, and assume 2 meals/day. Uh, math concerns….

So, expectations #1 and #2 are that people are bringing food with them, and folks know to do this. Expectation #3 is that food will arrive from outside by day 4, as it did in 2011. I don’t think any of these apply to Portland, so that’s, uh, something to think about.

Wrapping Up the PSU Week

The last day of the program (Saturday, 6/24), was a bit more of a blur than some other days, if maybe only because we spent less time on the bus! In the morning, we heard from a couple of folks working on replacement housing. Six years later, there are still 100,000 people in temporary housing! And the social dynamics are real. Throw a bunch of fishermen among the farmers, a crowd of folks on government assistance among the still-working…it gets tense. The big breakthrough was assigning housing by neighborhood, rather than by lottery, which helped keep some group cohesion. Apparently that was an important factor, although I could imagine it going the other way, too.

After checking out the early construction phase of their new development (adding layers of dirt for a couple years, remember), we visited some of future residents at a local Shinto shrine. Then, off to the oyster farm!  I gotta tell you, I’m not much of an oyster guy, myself, but getting out on the water, and watching these guys do their thing….an excellent way to wrap up the week.

Image may contain: 16 people, people smiling, people standing, mountain, sky, outdoor and natureWell, not totally wrap-up. There was a group photo or TWELVE that had to happen first….but eventually we were, reluctantly, allowed to leave. Our hosts were very sweet.

I’m looking forward to getting everyone’s thoughts and revisiting with the group. We will be presenting our thoughts at PSU from 4-4:30pm on July 15 at (Smith Student Union, #296/8). Join us if you’d like to see the song and dance version (Tohoku: the musical!). Check out the event flyer and RSVP here if you plan to attend.

The Buy Nothing Project

The Buy Nothing Project

In the past week, three things happened that will enrich my daily life (and may come in handy after a disaster): I met a neighbor three blocks away who has kids the same age as mine, I got a free pea trellis, and I learned how to make fire cider – all thanks to a group I joined a year ago – the Buy Nothing Project. It has brought me into contact with people near me whom I would likely not have met otherwise.

What is Buy Nothing? It’s a Facebook Group. — Wait, don’t run! — If you’re a Facebook hater, please keep reading. This might be a reason to use Facebook, even if you don’t do anything else with it.

How Does It Work? Buy Nothing provides a structure for groups of neighbors to give or lend items they no longer need and ask for items they would like to receive or borrow. They can also give/receive services and gifts of time. Interactions begin on Facebook and continue on front porches and in living rooms. Ongoing relationships often result, and amazing acts of kindness abound.

WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH DISASTERS?

The four phases of emergency management are: mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery. Most disaster resources (including this blog!) focus primarily on things you can do by yourself that fall into the categories of mitigation and preparedness (like making an earthquake kit, making reunification plans, strapping your furniture, bolting your foundation, learning to shut off your utilities, and storing water).

But response and recovery are no less important, and planning for them means getting out and interacting with your neighbors. After the shaking stops, it’s our neighbors who will be there to physically and emotionally save us. After the dust settles, it’s our neighbors who will help us recover and rebuild. There just aren’t enough professional responders to “come save us.”

Living in a busy city in modern times often makes introductions and connections challenging. So how can we connect with our neighbors? Buy Nothing is one tool you may want to consider.

FACE-TO-FACE INTERACTIONS

In this semi-online, semi-offline community, true wealth is considered to be the web of relationships created between neighbors. The group encourages face-to-face interactions, and members often share stories with the group about the way those interactions have brightened their day.

Many members become friends on Facebook and in real life. Buy Nothing events have sprung up in my neighborhood. Last weekend there was a clothing swap, and the weekend before that there was a silent auction-style gift exchange with ice-breaker games and snacks. This spring there will be a Buy Nothing booth at our neighborhood cleanup event.

I often run into Buy Nothingers when I’m out in public. Sometimes I’ve met them in person, and sometimes I recognize their photo and introduce myself. I’ve only lived in this neighborhood for two years, but I already feel infinitely more connected than I did after several years of living in my former neighborhood.

SCARCITY AND ABUNDANCE

Buy Nothing creates a hyper-local gift economy. No money is exchanged at any point. Group administrators are volunteers, and they remind us that giving should not just be “haves” giving to “have-nots.” Everyone has something of value to share, and it’s amazing to see this in action. A group member who yesterday asked for toilet paper is today offering a bike he no longer needs. This highlights our community’s scarcity and abundance all at once.

While our resilience can be affected by our economic status, a strong community can mitigate the impact. I’ve seen Buy Nothing act as a community food bank and a way to keep ever-growing children clothed. And as we know, preparing earthquake kits can be challenging for community members who don’t have resources to spare. Through Buy Nothing I’ve been gifted bike helmets, water containers, backpacks, medical supplies, canning supplies, seeds, hiking boots, work gloves, and cabinet latches. I’ve seen others give and receive space blankets, canned goods, storage containers, propane fuel, tarps, buckets, flashlights, and tents.

COMMUNITY RESILIENCE IN ACTION

During our recent snow storm, one member offered free childcare to parents who couldn’t take any more time off work. Another offered transportation to those who wanted to avoid mass transit delays and/or didn’t have a vehicle with snow chains. Sidewalks were shoveled, salt was sprinkled, food was delivered, sleds were gifted, and stir-craziness was abated.  

–> Last month a new mom got her bike and work bag stolen. Group members gifted her new bike panniers and a breast pump.

–> A few weeks ago, a group member gave birth to premature twins, and Buy Nothingers offered to run errands, give her postpartum items, provide emotional support, and set up a meal train for the family.

–> Last week a member asked for a ride to her citizenship test, and offers of rides, support, and encouragement rolled in.

–> Yesterday two Buy Nothingers helped another member with mobility issues by sweeping the pine needles off her roof, unclogging her gutters, and washing them out with a gutter cleaner they got from the North Portland Tool Library.

–> Today a member invited others to join him for a mending party as he works through his pile of clothing that needs patching and darning.

SUSTAINABILITY

Declutter, save money, meet your neighbors, get a new lamp shade, save the world! Buy Nothing also has an impact on our environment and cash economy. It keeps usable goods out of landfills, reduces carbon emissions, and reduces our reliance on corporations. And as Buy Nothingers share their skills, they are helping others learn to make and fix instead of toss and buy.

“Rethinking consumption and refusing to buy new in favor of asking for an item from a neighbor may make an impact on the amount of goods manufactured in the first place, which in turn may put a dent in the overproduction of unnecessary goods that end up in our landfills, watersheds, and our seas.” — https://buynothingproject.org/about

LAY OF THE LAND

I’ve noticed a hidden benefit to participating in Buy Nothing: I’m learning the physical layout of my neighborhood. As I drive, bike, and walk to my neighbors’ homes, I’m getting to know the streets and landmarks of my community. I’m sure you can see how this might be useful to a Neighborhood Emergency Team member after an earthquake.

IMMEASURABLE BENEFITS

Buy Nothing has brought me immeasurable benefits. I’ve strengthened my connection to my community, saved gobs of cash, beautified my home, added to my emergency preparedness kits, learned new skills, and felt the joy of giving. A few weeks into it, I couldn’t stop looking for items in my house to give away. A few months into it, I stopped thinking of it as a cool way to get stuff and started seeing as a way to connect with people and unplug from the system. With each passing day, my family is more resilient and therefore more prepared for all stages of a natural, manmade, or personal disaster.

There are currently 80+ Buy Nothing groups in Oregon, including 18 in Portland. As groups grow, they “redistrict” and split apart into even more hyper-local groups. To learn more, visit the Buy Nothing Project website and watch this video.  

Written by Laura Hall
Assistant Team Leader
Arbor Lodge / Kenton NET
ArborLodgePrepares@gmail.com

Are Our K-12 Schools Ready for The Big One?

Are Our K-12 Schools Ready for The Big One?

Picture this: A bookshelf packed with heavy materials located next to an exit, a large steel teacher’s desk on wheels that don’t lock sitting in the middle of a classroom, a tall filing cabinet next to student desks, folded cafeteria tables on wheels lining the walls of a gymnasium, a piano on wheels sitting in a hallway, lockers not attached to walls… Okay, now picture what happens when a 9.0 earthquake hits.

Yikes.

One of the questions I hear most frequently from my neighbors is: How are our schools preparing for a major earthquake? I can’t speak about private schools, but I can say that our public schools are doing the best they can with the resources they have – which is to say, not enough.

Portland Public Schools

Thanks to bond measures passed in 1995 and 2012, Portland Public Schools has completed seismic upgrades to many of their buildings. They also require schools to do earthquake drills twice a year, and some (but not all) schools have stockpiled emergency supplies and water. This is a good start, but it’s not enough to ensure all children’s safety during a massive earthquake.

Non-Structural Hazard Mitigation

Non-structural hazard mitigation encompasses many types of preparation, but the most relevant for this conversation is the securing of a building’s contents that could become hazardous during an earthquake – like that bookshelf by the only exit of a 1st grade classroom. Securing that bookshelf might be one of the best and easiest ways to prevent loss of life for those 1st graders.

 

As much as the hard-working folks at PPS would like to secure all of these hazardous items, they don’t have a budget for it. And it’s not because they don’t care. It’s because they’re faced with SO MANY other urgent issues and an incredibly restrictive budget. And because by and large, people don’t voice their concerns to administrators and elected officials about this topic.

Okay, political rant complete.  Besides allocating more money, what can we do?

Parents4Preparedness

Parents, teachers, and administrators are working together to find creative solutions. The group Parents4Preparedness (P4P) was formed in 2015 by a group of concerned parents. They meet every two months during the school year to advocate for sufficient earthquake preparedness resources, promote best practices, and share information to improve the resiliency of Oregon’s schools.

These are parents who have had some successes (strapping furniture, leading parent/child reunification drills, etc.) who are trying to reach out to other parents to share what they’ve learned. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as buying some brackets and “getting someone to do it.” There are liability issues to consider. There are schedules to consider. There are busy, busy teachers to consider. There are 100+ year old buildings with lead paint and weird materials in the walls to consider. And there are very serious equity issues to consider.

Mercy Corps Information Campaign

One of P4P’s co-facilitators, Susan Romanski, is the US Director for Disaster Preparedness & Community Resilience for Mercy Corps. Now through the end of the 2016-2017 school year, Susan is offering to do 90-minute earthquake preparedness presentations and facilitated discussions for PPS schools that request it. She’ll cover basic steps to prepare families, communities, and schools for a Cascadia event. Her presentations can be offered in English or Spanish. Here’s the catch – a parent (or group of parents) has to take this on. They need to organize the event, publicize it, and work with the school’s administration to make it happen. Parents interested in arranging a presentation at their school should carefully read this flyer.

Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) member participation is welcome and encouraged at these events. Once an event is scheduled, the NET Team Leader in that neighborhood will be contacted, and the TL can attend the event or find someone else on the team to do it. The NET can introduce themself, share their NET experience/activities, or simply explain what NET is. This can create a bridge between the parents and the NET. 

2017 Bond Proposal

Work is currently being done on a new PPS Health, Safety, and Modernization Bond proposal for May 2017. This bond is our only hope for funds that will continue to make schools safer for the next 6-8+ years. There are no other options for capital funds in the amounts needed – not from the City of Portland, the State of Oregon, or FEMA. We must persuade our friends and neighbors that these investments in safety make sense.

The first meeting with opportunity for public testimony is from 6:30-8pm on Thursday, February 2 at Madison High School. There will also be a School Board meeting on February 6 and additional town halls on February 7, 8, and 9. See the district’s bond website for details and complete this very brief online survey before February 10th.

Help Us Get the Word Out

Your help is needed in getting the word out about P4P, the Mercy Corps presentations, and the 2017 bond. We especially need to make sure that parents in underrepresented communities hear about this. So please, spread this far and wide. I know parents are overwhelmed with other issues, but this is an issue that threatens thousands of children’s lives.

 

Written by Laura Hall, Assistant Team Leader, Arbor Lodge / Kenton NET, ArborLodgePrepares@gmail.com
(Thanks to Ted Wolf for contributing. Ted is advocating on behalf of P4P on the 2017 bond proposal.)

FRS/GMRS Radio Primer

FRS/GMRS Radio Primer

FRS/GMRS radios are the go-to radios for most intra-team NET communication. Every NET member should have one in their go-kit. Here’s what you need to know about the world of FRS/GMRS to be an effective (and legal) FRS/GMRS operator. There is also some buying advice for those who still need to get their radio.

The Services

FRS and GMRS are two overlapping radio services defined by the FCC.

FRS (Family Radio Service) is free, and no license is required. It offers a short range of operation due to low power and antenna restrictions.

GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) covers a much farther range through higher power and the options of external antennas and repeater operation. However, it requires a license. The license is $65 for 5 years with a simple, online application. There is no exam. The license covers your entire “family.”

The services have 22 channels – some are shared and some are exclusive for the particular service.

Being Legal

It is your responsibility to operate your radio in a legal manner.

  • If you do not have a GMRS license, you may only operate on channels 1-14 and only with low power.
  • If you have a GMRS license, you may operate on any of the 22 channels with the maximum power shown on the chart.

Each NET team is assigned a channel from 2-7. Channel 1 is informally recognized as a national calling channel for emergencies. Using the shared FRS/GMRS channels allows for teams to have both unlicensed and licensed team members. The non-licensed members are restricted to low power while the licensed members may use higher power.

Ninety-nine percent of today’s consumer handheld radios cover both services. The exceptions are GMRS-only radios which we’ll cover below. All of the dual-service radios automatically reduce power on the FRS-only channels 8-14. On the shared FRS/GMRS channels 1-7 however it is the user’s responsibility to use low power if they are not licensed. While it is simple to do, each manufacture has a different way to do this. Some radios (newer Motorola models) have two PTT (Push-To-Talk) buttons – one for low power and one for high power. Nice and simple. Other radios (Midland, et al) have a menu option to set power level on a channel-by-channel basis.  It seems that these radios come from the factory with the default power level set to high. If you are not licensed, you will need to consult your radio manual on how to reduce power on the shared channels.

One caveat: A few older dual-service radios do not have the ability to reduce power on the shared FRS/GMRS channels. Unfortunately, this renders the radio useable to GMRS-licensed members only. If you think you may have one of these radios, your team ARO may be able to help you check if you are concerned.

Of course, in an emergency involving the threat of life safety or imminent property damage, you may operate on any channel with any power level.

The Ideal Radio

Manufacturers offer a huge range of FRS/GMRS radios. The choice is staggering and the selection seems to change monthly as models come and go. Prices range from $25 to $150. How to choose? While Portland NET cannot officially recommend any particular radio, the RTL (Radio Training Liaisons) have pooled our collective wisdom and come up with the following suggested feature set and a list of radios that come close to meeting them.

Suggested features:

  • Supports both low and high power
  • Weather resistant or waterproof
  • Supports multiple battery options, particularly AAs
  • Includes earbud/mic
  • Desktop charger
  • FM and NOAA reception
  • Repeater capable

 

Motorola T4xx/T6xx seriesMotorola MS350R/MS355RMidland GXT series
Supports low/high poweryesyesyes
Weather-resistant or waterproofT4xx weather-resistant
T6xx waterproof
WaterproofWeather-resistant
Supports AA batteriesyesyesyes
Includes earbud/micT465 onlyMS355Ryes
Desktop chargerT480
Others use wallwart
yesyes
FM and NOAA receptionT480 FM+NOAA
Others NOAA
NOAANOAA
Repeater capablenoyesno

The GMRS-Only Option

As of late 2016, there are two GMRS-only radios. Basically, a GMRS-only radio gives up the ability to transmit on the FRS-only channels (7-14) but retains the shared FRS/GMRS channels and gains the options of higher power and use of an external antenna. Both can significantly increase the available range and could be useful for teams needing more geographic coverage.

The Midland MXT100 is a mobile GMRS-only radio with five watts and a magnetic-mount external antenna. It does not contain batteries but uses a cig-lighter plug for powering off a vehicle 12v system. The radio is quite small and includes a quick release bracket for easy vehicle changes. Here’s a link to an earlier, more detailed NET review.

The BTech/Baofeng GMRS-V1 is a handheld GMRS-only radio. It has the ability to transmit on any GMRS channel including GMRS repeaters. It can also be programmed to receive VHF/UHF ham, public service, NOAA, and FM broadcasts. It has a replaceable antenna. It is also a 5-watt radio. Many battery, antenna, and earbud/mic options are available.

What About the Baofeng UV-5R and Their Ilk?

As they say, “It’s complicated.” Basically, the UV-5R is not FCC accepted for either FRS or GMRS. While it is possible to program the UV-5R to transmit on FRS/GMRS frequencies, it is illegal to transmit on those channels except during an emergency. That little caveat is why many NET AROs have a UV-5R in the radio stash. NET AROs can use the UV-5R as their ham handheld and monitor FRS/GMRS channels at the same time. They typically have a regular dual-service FRS/GMRS handheld for transmitting on the channels. If push came to shove in an emergency, they could use the UV-5R for FRS/GMRS as well as ham.

GMRS Repeater Notes

The FCC allows for repeaters in the GMRS service. A GMRS repeater can dramatically increase the coverage area. There are currently no GMRS repeaters in the Portland area although several NET teams in geographically challenging areas are considering them. If anyone is interested in the topic, a good resource is myGMRS.

Written by: John Beaston, Overlook NET, K7TY, k7ty@arrl.net

Gear Review: Midland MXT100 GMRS Radio

Gear Review: Midland MXT100 GMRS Radio

The Midland MXT100 is a GMRS-only radio. The manufacturer’s list price is $150, but is currently listed on Amazon for $119. Locally you can find it at Bimart for $130.

FEATURES

(from Midland website)

  • Full 5W Radio + External Magnetic Mount Antenna for extended range
  • 15 High and Low Power (GMRS) Channels *FCC License Required
  • 142 Privacy Codes to block other conversations
  • Channel Scan (to monitor radio activity) with Controlled Frequency Synthesizer
  • High-Grade Microphone
  • Silent Operation when beeps/tones are not desired
  • Flip-Frame Detachable Mount to install on or under dash
  • High Contrast (back-lit) LCD for daylight or night use
  • 12 V Car Power adapter (included)

CONDITIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NETS: 

  • Unlike FRS/GMRS handheld radios, this is a GMRS-only radio. A GMRS license is required, which costs $65 every five years and is good for all family members.
  • Supports only GMRS channels (channels 1-7 and 15-22). FRS-only channels (channels 8-14) are not supported. This may limit some teams on their channel selections.
  • Recommended for NET Amateur Radio Operators (AROs) operating from home, at a fire station, or in a vehicle. It would be a good complement to a FRS/GMRS handheld. The ARO needs to have a GMRS license in addition to their ham license.

GOOD THINGS:

  • It’s very compact and would be easy to mount in a car. It’s much smaller than mobile ham radios. It includes a quick-release mounting bracket so it could be easily removed when not in use.
  • 12 volt powered – no internal batteries. Included cigarette lighter plug allows for easy in-vehicle operation and quick swapping between vehicles. Could also use larger capacity external 12-volt batteries. You don’t have to worry about AA/AAAs.
  • Higher power than handhelds (5 watts vs 2-3 watts). Gives a practical range of 3-4 miles when communicating with handheld radios. Handheld-to-handheld range is typically 1-2 miles. This was tested within the Overlook NET area.
  • External magnetic mount antenna allows for easy placement on a vehicle roof or other metallic surface. The included antenna is quite a bit better than those on handheld radios. You could also use many ham base station UHF antennas.
  • Very easy-to-use. No channel programming needed as with some general UHF mobile radios.
  • Fast channel scanning speed. And individual channels can be included or excluded from the scan, so the team’s main and backup channels could be scanned without needing to listen to other channels.
  • Good build quality.

NOT-SO-GOOD THINGS:

  • No support for GMRS repeaters.
  • No support for FRS-only channels (8-14). It is a GMRS-only radio.
  • Quite a bit more expensive than even the best handheld FRS/GMRS radios.
  • Not compatible with regular external speaker/mics. However, the included microphone seems quite good and there’s a connector for an external speaker.
  • The display is small and a bit hard-to-read even with illumination turned up.
  • No automatic power-off, so it could drain the external battery if you’re not careful. Most handhelds have an automatic power-off setting.

 

Written by: John Beaston, Overlook NET, K7TY, k7ty@arrl.net

Credit: Thanks to Marino KG7EMV for the loan of the radio.

Equipment Tips and Tricks: Recharge Your Batteries

Equipment Tips and Tricks: Recharge Your Batteries

In this episode of Equipment Tips and Tricks, I talk about recharging your batteries. I talk about hybrid rechargeable batteries, smart chargers, and show off a neat piece of kit for storing them.

Equipment Mentioned in this Video

Full Transcript of the Video

Hey there Portland NETs and everyone else interested in community emergency response equipment tips and tricks—my name is Taylor. I’m a volunteer with the Kenton-Arbor Lodge Neighborhood Emergency Team in North Portland Oregon. Today I’m talking about recharging your batteries.

A lot of us are using rechargeable batteries in our kit. These Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries are all over the place. Supermarkets and connivence stores as well as big-box your regular electronic retailers. So, what’s the person to buy?

Well, the batteries you want to buy if you’re looking for rechargeables are going to be Nickel-metal Hydride. There might be some Lithium cells out there on the market, but by-common, you will find NiMH or Nickel-metal Hydride batteries.

Now, specifically, you should be thinking about picking up the versions that are marketed as hybrid batteries. These have a different chemical structure which allows them to retain their charge while they’re just sitting there on the shelf for quite a long time.

The most known brand of these are called Eneloop. That’s their logo! Although you’ll find others, such as these Rayovac Hybrids, on the market. You can go online and find all sorts of reviews. In the end, it’s the shelf-stableness of them that you’re going for. They’ll kind of sit there with their charge for a good couple of months. Unlike normal Nickel-metal hydride rechargeable which will deplete very quickly sitting on a shelf. So that’s the batteries you want.

Now, how do you store them? Well, I love these little carriers. They’re kind of on the spendy side, but so convenient. And what really makes them nice for rechargeables is that you can use them to determine, at a glance, whether that rechargeable is charged or depleted. How I do this is I store them with the positive terminal down if they’re charged. And when they’re depleted, you just flip it the other way and at a glance, you can quickly see which of your batteries are good to go and which you need to replace.

Of course, there are lots of different to store your batteries –whatever works for you. Just make sure you’re not contacting them so they create a short circuit and y’know, blow up or something.

The last thing you’re going to need is a charger. Again, lots of chargers on the market. What you want to look for is a smart charger. Something that can really detect the voltage on that battery and condition it over time to make it last as long as it can.

So this is one such variety. This is made by LaCrosse. There are lots of different models out there. Basically a smart charger is always going to have some sort of screen to tell you what’s going on with the charger. You’ll be able to see that, perhaps the current — how much current is being put into the battery at any time. Slower is better. Fast chargers are not as good. And you might be able to set it to be a refresh or recharge mode, which will completely drain the battery and then charge it all the way back up to get it’s maximum potential.

So, again: Hybrid batteries. A good way to store them. And a smart charger.

Choosing rechargeable batteries for your emergency kit is a personal choice. I prefer to use rechargeables on the things that I use on a constant basis such as my headlamp or that I have sitting around for radio usage or something to that effect. In my actual emergency kit — the one that’s in the garage kind of stored away—I have just regular alkaline batteries sitting there. And that way I don’t have to worry about them going bad for tens of years, rather than just in a couple of months. Also, alkaline batteries a lot less expensive so I can have a larger supply sitting there, without needing to invest in so heavily in the rechargeable batteries.

If you have anything to add about this topic, head on over to YouTube—that’s where we’ve got the comments—of course you can subscribe there as well. And as always, Portland, keep Portland prepared at portlandprepares.org. I’ll catch you next time.

Equipment Tips and Tricks: Listen to your Radio

Equipment Tips and Tricks: Listen to your Radio

In this episode of Equipment Tips and Tricks, I share my preferred set-up to get audio from the radio into my ear. It allows me to operate the radio without interfering with whatever I’m working on and without compromising the ability to hear the environment around me.

Equipment Mentioned in this Video

Full transcript of the video:

Hey there Portland NET and everyone else interested in community emergency response equipment tips and tricks.

My name is Taylor. I’m a volunteer with the Kenton/Arbor Lodge Neighborhood Emergency Team in North Portland, Oregon. I’m talking about listening to your radio or, more specifically, how to get the audio from the radio into your ear where it’s most effective.

Right, so I’ve got the two radios I deploy with:My ham radio, Baofeng portable (er, handheld) and my Motorola Talkabout FRS/GMRS. The one thing these two radios have in common is that their speakers… not so great.

These speakers will work fine in a controlled environment, such as this studio, your house, inside of a car… But as soon as you get and you’re deploying to something—people are talking, sirens are happening, whatever else is going on in your environment—you’re quickly going to have this audio drowned out.

Furthermore, you put the radio down on your hip or somewhere out of the way and the speaker’s pointed in the wrong direction. So, we need a method to get the speaker audio closer and ideally into our ear.

Lots of different solutions for this. I’m going to describe the one that works best for me. And it starts with what’s called a speaker microphone, or speaker mic. And it looks like this. Really inexpensive on Amazon, we’ll pop some links for it over on http://portlandprepares.org if you’re interested in getting a direct link.

But basically, this is an extension cord for the speaker and microphone on your radio. Plug it into your radio and you’ll hook this wherever you want. Now keep in mind that the plugs on here are proprietary to the radio. This is a 2-prong plug for Baofeng and Kenwood, but there’s lots of different varieties. And I can’t plug this into my Talkabout FRS radio — I need a different speaker mic. That’s the way things are.

So we’ll put this into our radio and we’ll hook this wherever we want. These vests actually have a neat loop like this and you can put the radio there if you want. I prefer it here, right in front of my shirt. Some people hook it to their backpack straps. The problem with that is that if you take off your backpack to get into the gear: radio goes all over the place.

Now this is an effective extension cord for the speaker and microphone, but it’s still not in our ear. Which means it can still get drowned out pretty readily. So, the bottom of this speaker microphone has a 3.5 millimeter jack or 1/8 inch jack for a listen-only headset. It basically says: use this for the microphone, take the speaker and put it somewhere else.

Now for that, I prefer an earpiece something along the lines. This is what’s called an acoustic tube listen-only earpiece. This is the acoustic tube, this clear part. It doesn’t need to be clear—that just makes you look like a secret agent.

And on the end of it, you can have any sort of ear attachment. So they make ones that go into your ear, they make foam earplug versions. This one is called an open-ear insert. It’s open because it allows audio from around you. All of the ambient noise of what’s going on to still get into your ear as well as injecting your radio audio.

It’s also nice because it puts the speaker for this down here. Which means the whole earpiece part is very lightweight. This is super comfortable to wear all day. And you can route this other end of it however you want. Down into your collared shirt, whatever.

So that’s the setup I prefer to use. As always, use what works best for you and test your equipment out. Get all your gear on, go walk around the neighborhood, go on an exercise with your team, whatever it takes to make sure your stuff is going to work in a real emergency.

As always: keep Portland prepared at http://portlandprepares.org. If you want to add to this conversation or tell us what gear you like to use, head on over to YouTube we’ve got the comments there and, while there, you can also subscribe to the rest of these videos and get them as they come in.

Thanks for watching, we’ll catch you next time!

Integrating NETs with Neighborhood Associations

Integrating NETs with Neighborhood Associations

In Portland’s Sunnyside neighborhood – and in other neighborhoods – we’ve collaborated with a supportive Neighborhood Association (NA), and it has been extremely productive and mutually rewarding. We offer a summary of our experience hoping that it will be useful to other Neighborhood Emergency Teams (NETs).

sunnyside_na

SUNNYSIDE’S RESULTS: 

  • In a little over a year, more than 200 non-NET neighbors have joined our email list, and hundreds more have attended meetings or outreach events. Some do not have the time or desire to get NET Basic Training, and others are satisfied preparing “only” their block using Map Your Neighborhood. That’s fine. We want all of these people to be aware of each other and to share training resources. And we want to meet them before an emergency occurs.
  • Each neighbor with an emergency kit makes for one less household you’ll need to worry about in an emergency – plus, they might be able to help as a Spontaneous Unaffiliated Volunteer (SUV) or Affiliated Trained Volunteer (ATV).
  • We have supported several block parties/meetings where neighbors meet and create a plan for their micro-neighborhood.
  • We are integrating with our NA’s Crime Prevention Committee, and the Office of Neighborhood Involvement’s Neighborhood Watch program. It’s a no-brainer: recruit civic-minded people wherever possible.

 

HOW: 

The “Sunnyside Prepared” committee was founded to recognize the need to work with everyone in the community who is interested in preparedness, not only NETs. Sunnyside has 6,000+ residents and fewer than 20 NETs. We need all hands on deck. The committee was proposed to and approved by our Neighborhood Association, who recognize the value in supporting this work. We proposed an itemized budget, and the NA board happily approved it out of their funds.

We also segment our monthly meetings into general “emergency prep” and NET portions. Everyone is welcome to attend all, unless we plan to discuss confidential information only approved for NETs.

 

PROS: 

There are so many reasons to do this!

Fundraising

As you may already know, PBEM/NET enables teams to accept tax-deductible donations through the Friends of Portland Fire & Rescue for equipment cache and supplies (see NET Guidelines doc for details). We cannot raise money through NAs due to their legal structure – BUT we can request money directly from NAs for other costs like printing and postage, tabling supplies, and giveaways. So:

Mo’ Money

Request a budget from your NA! We are aware of teams receiving $250 – $1,500 annually. Keep a keen eye on your accounting and use money strictly for its approved purposes; it is very important to keep your Friends of Portland Fire & Rescue and NA accounts and ledgers separate. And proactively report to your NA how its funding improved your outreach and performance. How many people attended events? How many brochures were distributed? Also account for in-kind costs you do not incur but which support your work, e.g. materials from PBEM. Your NA needs to understand the total return on its investment.

sunnyside_flower_painting
Public Outreach

You will reach a much wider audience through your NA’s calendar and newsletter, as well as NextDoor.com. Your NA probably gets a booth at local street fairs at no cost. Ask to use/share it.

School Outreach

With official recognition by your NA, school administrators will be more likely to welcome your collaboration. Mention that NETs are background-checked by PBEM; of course, school staff do not allow strangers to wander school grounds. PPS has its own background check process that they may ask you to complete.

Business Outreach

As a public agency, PBEM cannot support any activity that might be perceived as endorsing a business. However NAs can, and their endorsement legitimizes your outreach to local businesses. See the PortlandPrepares.org article NET + Business Partnership = Win Win Win. We are considering a window-sticker campaign to “brand” our neighborhood businesses for emergency preparedness.

Website

Your NA might be able to give you a page on their site at no cost (like SunnysidePrepared.com) or at least a link to your team’s page on PortlandPrepares.com.

City Discounts

Committees of NAs may place orders through the City’s Printing & Distribution office (SW 2nd & Main), whose rates are usually better than retail. Plus, with pre-approval for each order, they bill the NA directly so you don’t need to go out-of-pocket.

Satisfaction

Once you get going, you will become one of your NA’s most productive and active committees. And that leads to more support and mutual reward.

 

CONS:

  • Neighborhood Association boards change. Ours is amazingly cooperative, though we’ve heard about contentious NAs in other parts of the city. Establish your committee outside the politics of other issues and be sure to report about the value you’re contributing. That should help ensure that your NA’s support will endure.
  • At some meetings you will be mingling trained NETs with the general public, so balance NET exercises with an increase in outreach to people just beginning their personal emergency preparedness.
  • Consider appointing an ATL to primarily handle outreach and ensure that you don’t neglect your other TL duties. To explore this, we plan to test separating our monthly public meetings with separate quarterly NET exercises.

We hope our experience will be useful to you. PLEASE, share your experiences with us. We would like to revise this piece in the future to incorporate great ideas that other teams share.

 

Glenn C. Devitt, Sunnyside Team Lead, Sunnyside Prepared Co-Chair, Friends of Portland NET co-founder, glenn@sunnysideprepared.com, 503.345.4321

Jan Molinaro, Sunnyside Assistant Team Lead, Sunnyside Prepared Co-Chair, jan@sunnysideprepared.com