'GREAT' discusses disaster response in Gresham
When Gregg Hayward, Gresham's business sustainability coordinator, was 6-years-old, his youth hockey coach asked him to play goalie. It was the first time Hayward had filled the role, and he was nervous about taking on the task.
"The coach put me in the goal and shot all of these pucks at me," Hayward said. "I cowered and maybe saved one or two shots."
Hayward shared the story when illustrating how businesses should approach disasters.
Hayward was a guest speaker during the Gresham Resource Efficiency Assistance To (GREAT) Business program's monthly meeting Wednesday morning, Jan. 31, at the Rockwood Public Safety Building, Northeast 181st Avenue.
He suggested that with proper preparation, local businesses will be able to handle future incidents better than he did as a fill-in goalie.
"We could lose our green business community if all of you aren't prepared to be resilient during a disaster," Hayward said.
During the meeting the city's Emergency Management Coordinator, Kelle Landavazo, spoke about the questions businesses and community members should be asking themselves.
"Extreme weather is the single biggest threat to the business community," Landavazo said. "A good question to ask is, 'What if it happens tonight?'"
The past year was record breaking for the federal government when it came to funding disaster relief. In total, $306 billion was spent in 2017 responding to the many floods, fires and earthquakes that hit the country. That affects funding at the local level as well, Landavazo explained, because it is harder to secure support.
It's important to know how different disasters will affect businesses, and to have discussions with employees. Business owners should know the risks, operations, finances, information technology, suppliers, vendors and key customers. In East Multnomah County, the possible natural disasters include the Cascadia Subduction Earthquake Zone, flooding and fires.
During a disaster in the region, the staging area for FEMA would be in Redmond, and most likely Gresham would serve as a resource distribution center.
The resource that has been flagged as the most crucial is fuel, and staff from across the region have been working on how best to stockpile reserves and deal with any shortages.
"Getting businesses open after a disaster is vital for the city," she said. "The longer you stay closed, the longer it takes for us to recover."
The GREAT Business Program provides free outreach to help reduce waste, water and energy while certifying businesses throughout Gresham for their sustainable efforts.
It is looking to work further on disaster preparedness.
"We would like to include a disaster preparedness section to our business plan," Hayward said. "It would be a way to help the businesses in our community."