Is Portland ready for a disaster? Experts say no

You don't need to read this article if you already had enough bottled water to last a month when the Portland Water Bureau announced the boil-water notice on Friday morning.

However, if you're like most of the 700,000 customers affected, the warning probably caught you by surprise.

The water was perfectly safe if you boiled it.

Still, why did it seem like all 700,000 customers raced to grocery stores, scrambling to snatch every bottle of water they could find by Friday afternoon?

(Click the 'play' button above to watch families running with shopping carts stacked with cases of water.)

"We've seen how panicked people can be when they're told they can't pour water from the tap into their cup," said Joshua Patterson, a computer programmer from Portland who now sells families emergency gear from his online store.

"This gives us a really good gauge how panicked people might be if they can't get food, or water, for a couple weeks."

Patterson says his family's ready to survive for a couple months.

He's part of a community of Portlanders you could call disaster gurus.

They organize community meetings, create Facebook groups, sell emergency preparedness kits online, and wish people would listen to them.

Here's what Patterson says you should have in your emergency kit. (Some products are for sale from his website.)

  • Batteries

  • Flashlight

  • Water filter

  • Freeze-dried food

  • Lantern

  • Candles

  • Walkie-Talkie

  • Battery-powered radio

  • Toilet paper

Another resource: The Red Cross maintains its emergency kit information on its website.

Or, you could just collect your own water, like J. Bradbury does.

He filters rain from a contraption attached to his gutters, grows fruits and vegetables i his front lawn, and says his family could survive "for a few weeks" without any services or supplies from the outside world.

"Resilience is to have a better life, grow your own food, have your own water source," he said. "It gives you confidence."

Bradbury also runs a business,, where he coaches Oregon families to prepare for the worst.

An entrepreneur named Steve Wood sold 10,000 of his "Go Stay Kits" -- $21.99 each -- from his condo in downtown Portland to customers all over the country who are also preparing for the worst.

The kits don't have batteries or water filters -- but they do have information.

"Go Stay Kits" are waterproof notebooks with all kinds of instructions and check-lists for families displaced by disaster.

Of course, they're also for sale online,