With an assist from a Troutdale council colleague, and federal funds, I am making Fairview safer. Wood Village and Troutdale, too.
Last fall, I researched and wrote a grant request for $200,000 to update the emergency disaster preparedness plans for Fairview, Wood Village, and Troutdale – all 10 years old and seriously outdated. (Fairview’s plan references the city police department we disbanded in 2017).
Last month, I learned the grant request was fully funded. Along with updating our disaster plans, the federal money will pay for a three-city training exercise that simulates a major disaster, such as an earthquake, flood or wildfire. These simulations get city officials working together, and side-by-side with county officials, to test just how well they can execute those disaster plans under real-time conditions.
Finally, the grant will pay for a risk analysis for each city, as well as outreach and training for residents and business owners. All the work would be done by a paid consultant. This is important because Fairview, Wood Village and Troutdale don’t have an emergency manager on staff the way larger cities like Gresham do. If we need help preparing for disaster, we must ask for it. How well we prevent, prepare for, and bounce back from a major disaster – natural or man-made – will depend on how we work together as a community.
The source of the grant is the Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization, or RDPO, a little-known but vitally important organization that supports disaster resilience in the Portland metro region. By bringing together leaders in government and the non-profit and private sectors, the RDPO helps organizations share ideas and resources and also distributes federal funding for projects in Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington and Clark Counties. Much of RDPO’s funding comes from FEMA, the federal disaster preparedness office that sits under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
As a member of the Fairview City Council, I serve as the city’s liaison to the RDPO, along with Sandy Glantz, a Troutdale city councilor I’ve come to like and respect. A longtime former member of Troutdale’s planning commission, Sandy has a sharp mind; She can see the big picture and drill down into the details. Sandy helped shape the idea for the grant, edited my submission, and shepherded the grant through a rigorous, multi-step RPDO vetting process. This money wouldn’t have arrived without her.
The grant also wouldn’t be possible without the guidance of Beth Crane, the interim managing director of RDPO. Beth told me about the grant funds available to East County, offered invaluable help with the project budget estimate, and helped guide me and Sandy through every step of the process with much-needed inspiration and support. Beth is the very best kind of public servant – one who does the right thing for the right reasons. She works hard to help our community.
It’s funny. I didn’t run for city council with public safety as a leading issue. But making sure my neighbors feel safe – including during a crisis – has become increasingly important to me. So many people have become alarmed by the rise in theft, vandalism, graffiti and shootings during the COVID pandemic n Fairview and the rest of the Portland area.
We all know that climate change is here, leading to record rain, record heat, record snow, and two major wildfires in East County. And that’s just in the last five years! Any day, the Portland region could experience a massive earthquake, one that could level bridges, buckle highways, and cause massive flooding and industrial fires.
If we are not prepared, the results will be deadly. In a large-scale disaster, law enforcement officers and other first responders will be too swamped to provide much assistance to Fairview. We will have to rely on our city government, and on each other. This grant funding, which arrives in January, will get us working together so we can help each other stay safe.