By Ben Weber, Woodlawn Neighborhood resident and Assistance Team Leader for the Concordia-Vernon-Woodlawn Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET). 

Are you prepared for a major natural disaster in Portland? Ever since an infamous New Yorker article in 2015 titled “The Really Big One”, that question has been on the forefront for more and more people in the Northwest. The devastation of Hurricane Harvey has further shocked people into understanding they may be on their own for days at a time, and that is for a disaster that came with a few precious days’ notice.

Your answer to that opening question, are you prepared, is probably “No” or “Not Enough”. But don’t be discouraged; nobody is completely prepared. There are simple steps you can start today and resources you should learn about that will help you get ready for a mega-earthquake (which is considered overdue in our state), or even dramatic weather events such at this winter’s foot of snow, or this summer’s record-setting heat streak.

“You can take small steps that add up towards being much better prepared.”

I’m writing as a member of the Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) for the Concordia, Vernon, and Woodlawn neighborhoods. We are volunteers trained in field medicine, search and rescue, and disaster assistance all in the name of being prepared to help our community respond and recover from a disaster when the police, fire department, and other first responders are understandably overwhelmed.

We are an effective and cohesive group, and we encourage you to join NET (learn how at However, there are currently only 32 of us on our team, serving about 17,000 people in our neighborhoods. You could say we are a bit understaffed. You being able to help yourself will go a long way.

Following an earthquake, plan to be self-reliant for up to several weeks. Key steps you can take include:

  • Make a plan for how to communicate and reconnect with your family. Getting around town will be challenging and phones and Internet may be down.
  • Stockpile food and water for two weeks if you can. At least one gallon of water per person per day, and food to keep you energized during strenuous days.
  • Identify places of shelter in your home, workplace, school, and other locations to ride out the shaking. It could last for up to nine minutes.

You can take small steps that add up towards being much better prepared. Find additional resources here: