Catastrophe: start small

Like you, I have just spent long hours watching and listening as a very strange man has told me that I live in hell. This character, a sort of Mr. Sweet Potato Head with marshmallow lips, piggy eyes and an orange toupée, claims that our nation is in free fall, we are all living in abject poverty (except for him), our cities are killing zones and every woman he has groped is a horrible, ugly liar.

My problem with this evil clown is that he is giving catastrophe a bad name. Catastrophes are not imaginary calamities that we blame on Hillary Clinton. They are real events that affect real people like you and me.

Catastrophes come in various sizes. Take the windstorm of February 9, 2015, for example. If you don’t remember it, try Google. You will find reports of 138 mph winds around Lake Tahoe. In Spokane, 158,000 homes lost power. Several Jackson and Josephine County residents drowned in associated flooding.

On the Green Springs, collapsing mountainsides and falling trees blocked our roads. Of course, power lines went down. At Green Springs Inn, we wired construction generators into key circuits and limped along until ODOT and Pacific Power reconnected us to the world. Four days later, most of our neighborhood was functioning.

This was a mini-catastrophe. Memory of it soon faded. But we know this was not the last such incident that will come our way and we can be certain that “mini” will not always apply. The next super storm may not choose Louisiana or the Carolinas. The next Oregon Gulch fire may not blow east. Even if we dodge such bullets, the inevitable “Cascadian event” is lurking in the shadows of the foreseeable future.

Yes, this disaster business is overwhelming. Personally, I would much rather crack a brew and root for the Cubs. But there are a few simple facts that we can focus on.

First, electing an evil clown to be POTUS will not help. Yeah, you knew that. But the fact is that even electing competent people, planning carefully and enacting smart legislation, while desirable, will not provide any immediate relief. Disasters are all local. If we are lucky and foresighted as a state and a nation, help will be on the way. But it will take a while to get here.

Second, power is key. Without power, communication breaks down.  Without power, we have no water. Without power, much of our food quickly rots.

What can we do locally to ensure that we have access to energy when the hammer comes down? Actually, there are answers to this question. Google “smart grid” and “mini grid.”

Let’s talk more.