Lake Oswego City Council favors investment in emergency response
After dealing with severe and persistent weather events over the past couple of years, the city of Lake Oswego is considering hiring a part-time employee, sharing a staff member with another jurisdiction or seeking a contractor to facilitate emergency management efforts. The Lake Oswego City Council gave staff members the directive to pursue this possibility during a meeting Tuesday, June 7.
"We're seeing different kinds of emergencies than we had in the past. They're more disruptive and less predictable," City Manager Martha Bennett said at the meeting.
Some pursuits the staffer or consultant would help with include updating the city's emergency operations plan, implementing a citywide training program with community groups to promote emergency preparedness and improving emergency response readiness at public facilities like City Hall and fire stations, among other initiatives. The city estimated that an investment in a staffer or consultant would cost $100,000 a year.
Bennett pointed out that public agencies would be overwhelmed in the event of a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake, thus necessitating self-sufficiency among residents and neighborhoods. After expressing support for the city's plans, Councilor Massene Mboup noted the violent rains that flooded city streets recently.
"I know there are emergencies we never thought we'd have. When I listen to our engineers about our sewage systems, it won't hold if we have rainfall for two days even to the extent we had last month," he said.
City Council members stated a preference for hiring an in-house person who has — or could establish — a familiarity with community needs.
"I think it's really important we start thinking about the future and what could happen. I think we've done a great job in the past coordinating with the different emergencies going on, but I think they're going to be more frequent," Councilor Rachel Verdick said, later adding: "I lean toward hiring an in-house person just so they can get to know the nuances of our community."
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