Mercer Island neighbors participate in an online emergency preparedness meeting on Sept. 13. They stayed indoors because of the poor air quality caused by the Oregon and California wildfires. Courtesy photo

Mercer Island neighbors participate in an online emergency preparedness meeting on Sept. 13. They stayed indoors because of the poor air quality caused by the Oregon and California wildfires. Courtesy photo

Residents are on board with emergency preparation

September marked as National Preparedness Month.

Jennifer Franklin connects with the Mercer Island community on myriad levels: She’s a police officer, emergency manager and conveyor of positive thoughts.

Each Friday, Franklin — who has been on the Island police force for 30 years — delivers into residents’ in-boxes her COVID-19 update newsletter, and once a month she sends out her emergency preparedness newsletter.

One tagline on her newsletter reads, “Remember, be patient and be kind.” In another newsletter, she told residents that everyone will get through these uncertain times.

“In any disaster, oftentimes, even though there are bad things going on, it’s amazing how people come together in emergency situations,” said Franklin, adding that one example was people stepping up to help their neighbors with grocery shopping during the pandemic.

With September marked as National Preparedness Month, Franklin, her fellow city employees at the police and fire departments and the Island’s large group of trained emergency volunteers have been spreading the word on how to stay safe.

According to FEMA, half of Americans have not discussed or developed a family emergency plan. The agency encouraged people this month to: prepare for disasters such as earthquakes, mudslides and wildfires; devise a family emergency plan; build emergency supply kits; and get involved by finding opportunities to support community preparedness.

Franklin has told residents that 2020 has been a rough year for emergencies with winter flooding, the pandemic, civil unrest, fire and air quality.

“If that didn’t give you too much of a wake-up call, you’ve gotta get ready. If you haven’t already got your kit together, your family plan… know your neighbors,” said Franklin, adding that the upcoming La Nina winter will be a wetter and colder scenario.

In the case of the recent poor air quality seeping into our region from the Oregon and California wildfires, residents were asked to stay indoors and refrain from burning candles, lighting fires and barbecuing and more.

During the pandemic, Franklin has reiterated masking up and social distancing in her newsletters and said that people have been adhering to that information, adding that it will be tough for people to stay apart during the upcoming holidays. She also noted that getting one’s flu vaccine now is an important step in staying on the healthy track.

While the city couldn’t hold Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) classes, emergency well training, National Night Out and Citizens Academy this year because of the pandemic, there have been free mask giveaways and map-your-neighborhood meetings on the docket.

On Sept. 13, neighbors participated in an online emergency preparedness meeting, staying indoors because of the poor air quality.

Community communication is key, said Franklin of the prepared Island residents.

“I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we’re right on the Seattle fault, of course, and then on top of it, we’re on the Island,” she said. “So with the potential for the bridges being compromised when we have an earthquake, it really I think has brought everybody together to really help each other out and start to organize and prepare as neighborhoods.”

For more emergency preparedness information, visit

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