If you visit this column somewhat regularly, you may recall a
couple of months ago I wrote about a grassroots effort for disaster
preparedness dubbed “MYN” for “Map Your Neighborhood.” MYN is an
effective and efficient method of showing how neighbors can help
one another with life-and-death concerns after a catastrophe such
as a large-magnitude earthquake.
If you visit this column somewhat regularly, you may recall a couple of months ago I wrote about a grassroots effort for disaster preparedness dubbed “MYN” for “Map Your Neighborhood.” MYN is an effective and efficient method of showing how neighbors can help one another with life-and-death concerns after a catastrophe such as a large-magnitude earthquake.
I became involved in this project via Morgan Hill resident Sherry Purser (who, for her dedication to the effort, last year received the Mick McDonald Volunteer of the Year Award for Morgan Hill from the Santa Clara County Emergency Manager’s Association).
The initial part of MYN involves walking your street (or a portion thereof), visiting neighbors and inviting them to an informational meeting, usually conducted in the home of one of the neighborhood organizers. Peggy, my across-the-street neighbor, and I agreed to become our street’s “Disaster Team.” Bear in mind that neither of us are exactly what you would call spring chickens, although Peggy’s fitness level is about a trazillion times above mine.
Now if this scenario conjures up images of “Lucy and Ethel Do Earthquakes,” you’re not far from wrong. At least in the beginning. Since our development is in the eastern foothills, this meant walking terrain that is, admittedly, more gentle than that of some streets in our hillside community, but still. For a girl with two iffy knees and a bum ankle, I was hoping not to perform an ungainly faceplant followed by a spectacular downhill tumble that would land me in the very watery middle of nearby Anderson Reservoir.
On our walk, Peggy and I briefly introduced the MYN program to our neighbors and inquired where their gas shut-off valve was located. Yes, that brought some odd looks directed our way. But once people deduced that we weren’t two geriatric terrorists in training, our neighbors were quite cooperative. Peggy and I enjoyed chatting with folks we hadn’t seen in quite some time or, in my case, hadn’t even met.
One facet of MYN is to gather information about our neighbors. No, not where they store their gin or if they prefer boxers over briefs – although I think that may have come up at some point. The information we needed had to do with children and other critters living at home – numbers, varieties, ages and names. I deduced we should someday sponsor a “Most Unusual Pet’s Name” competition because we found some doozies!
After conversing with the neighbors, Peggy and I settled upon a meeting date and time. We also determined we would meet at my home since I had a bit more space where we could stuff, er … assemble between 20 and 30 people while we viewed the MYN informational video.
Now, you know how things that start out sounding simple never turn out that way? Yeah. At least not at my house. Take the refreshments for example. I called Mindy, the young lady next door who graduated from culinary school, to ask if she could bring a couple of dozen cupcakes. A few yummy treats were sure to drag the neighbors over, right?
And those cupcakes were indeed yummy, but Peggy and I had descended the slippery slope of refreshments. Thinking people might be dashing over straight from work sans dinner, our refreshment list grew. And grew. Soon I was hauling out sizeable platters and bowls from the storage cabinet in the garage.
“Is this a party?” my spouse inquired as I busily rinsed out a few bowls.
“A party?” I gasped. “Oh, no, it’s an informational meeting,” I corrected him. But it was too late. The “P-word” was out. And I’m terrified of the “P-word.”
“Looks like a party to me …” he observed.
Well. That’s when it hit me. In about an hour a couple dozen people would be at my doorstep – most of who had never set foot inside my home. Looking at my house with fresh eyes I realized it was in no condition for its approaching premier.
Regrettably there was no time to properly tidy up, but no matter; guests were descending. And once I figured out how to operate the DVD player’s remote control, the “party” went just fine.
Watching the MYN video together, we learned some good information that night: where to assemble after an earthquake, and how to avoid cut feet from broken glass by keeping sturdy shoes under the bed. Next we learned that one couple could conceivably make their post-earthquake appearance wearing sturdy shoes – and not much else. But best of all, we learned it’s nice to know your neighbors – especially if disaster strikes. And you never can tell. As our neighbor Pete observed at the end of the evening, “If they would have had this program in Pakistan, they would have apprehended bin Laden YEARS ago!” Yep. You got that right!
For information on how to implement MYN in your neighborhood, e-mail [email protected]