Focus on readiness

Was it really April last month or just another 30 days of March? According to the National Weather Service, there were just three days in April with sunny skies. And there were three days with snow. On April 18, 19 and 20, some areas received as many as eight inches of the white stuff.

Temperatures for the month averaged more than three degrees below normal, but it seemed colder than that. On April 1, the temperature fell to 32 degrees.

It has been a very long winter.

But now the weather seems to be changing at last with a sunny days on Sunday and Monday. As temperatures rise, it is easy to lose sight of how important it is to stay focused on emergency preparedness.

One need only look at the devastation that happened in parts of the Midwest and southeastern United States last week to be reminded how quickly life can change. A recent spate of furious storms leveled neighborhoods by the block in towns that had little or no warning of what was coming.

We do not fear tornados, but earthquakes and fierce winter storms instead. The City continues to make positive steps toward emergency preparedness. The appointment of police officer Jennifer Franklin, formerly the department’s popular D.A.R.E. officer, and the development of an emergency water supply at Rotary Park near the library are positive steps. Yet quite possibly the most important item that residents crave in the time of an emergency is information.

Residents want to know when the power will be restored; where they can go to get food and water; where they can go to get warm; and how can they reach someone if they need help. In times of crisis, 911 circuits are overloaded and are of no use if telephone lines are down. Cell phones are worthless if towers are knocked out as they were in December of 2006. The best way to communicate with Islanders could be through our own local radio station, KMIH, at Mercer Island High School.

As even grade-school students know, it is important to have a battery-powered radio for use during an emergency. And as many know from the last set of storms, KIRO is not of much use to find out specific information about Mercer Island during a crisis. It makes perfect sense to use our local radio station ¬ó already in place at the high school located in the center of the Island.

We encourage the city to investigate the practicality of broadcasting from KMIH during an emergency. It is, after all, a public radio station.

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