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Event encourages people to take action now ahead of potential disasters

People turn out for the "Prepare Out Loud" event at Montgomery Park in Northwest Portland Wednesday. (KATU Photo)

The American Red Cross helped local families prepare for potential disasters in our area with a "Prepare Out Loud" event at Montgomery Park in Northwest Portland Wednesday.

The event, in conjunction with National Preparedness Month, is aimed at getting people in the Pacific Northwest to collect supplies before a disaster strikes.

"Really, it’s all meant to empower people to take steps to prepare their families for emergencies, disasters of all kinds," said Monique Dugaw, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, Cascades Region.

Portland Fire & Rescue and Clackamas Fire & Rescue were just a couple of the agencies on hand to help people work out an emergency plan for their home and family.

"Shame on us, if, as citizens, we don’t try to be as prepared as we can, because at the end of the day you're going to have to take care of yourself," said Bob Walden, who was among the crowds collecting brochures and getting advice from emergency services experts.

"I’m fully aware that I am not as prepared as I should be, but that’s another good reason to come to something like this and hear the pitch and see what else folks have to offer here to stimulate your thinking and say OK, now what else do I need to do that I haven’t already done?" Walden said.

Wildfires have been a story all summer in the Northwest, but the looming threat of a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake is perhaps the most top-of-mind potential disaster for many.

"We are anxious about the big earthquake, and we just moved into a new home and are kind of new to the area, so we wanted to make sure we are prepared for whatever happens, especially with having two little ones," said Mary Clause-Rakis.

"It’s refreshing to see people getting prepared and taking action instead of just waiting," said Tara Rakis.

For many, just the idea of starting a disaster survival kit can be daunting.

"So many of our friends have had earthquake preparation on their to-do list for literally years, and it can be overwhelming and stressful," said Marilyn Bishop of Cascadia Quake Kits.

"I’m a neighborhood emergency team member, and just trying to get the word out about preparedness, whether people prepare themselves or have had it on their to-do list for years and haven’t done it and call someone like us, we just want people to be ready," Bishop said.

Experts suggest starting an emergency kit a little bit at a time to help build up your supplies.

"I think that's really the message that we want people to know -- be prepared and not scared, because we do have the power to take action right now by putting away some food and water, by having conversations with our family members, by writing down important phone numbers, by talking with our schools about the steps that they're taking to prepare. These are all things that are within our power," Dugaw said.

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