Preparation and attitude are key assets in dealing with disasters

By Mindy Keskinen

In an emergency, our best asset isn’t a flashlight, or a sleeping bag, or even a clean water supply. It’s our attitude.

If we’re calm and aware of others’ needs, we help spark the community spirit that can rise in adversity. This year, Americans have seen severe storms and floods, wildfires and heat waves, all intensified by climate change. Are we prepared here in Minnesota? In any disaster, our confidence will depend on our health and our preparation.

That insight came from Dave Crawford, who spoke at a Nov. 28 community meeting co-sponsored by Transition Town – ASAP and the St. Anthony Park Community Council, with support from the Saint Anthony Park Community Foundation.


Are we ready as households, as neighborhoods, as a city?

A disaster preparedness consultant, Crawford said that any household should be ready both to shelter in place and to evacuate quickly if needed. Pre-pack a “bug-out bag” of key supplies for each person. The items will depend on where you’re likely to shelter, and for how long. But consider a first-aid kit, water-purification tablets, copies of documents such as property deeds, a base layer of clothing—and a few light items to lift spirits.

Any household should be ready both to shelter in place and to evacuate quickly if needed. Pre-pack a “bug-out bag” of key supplies for each person. Illustration by Michael and Regula Russelle

Check out what our Bugle Beetle packed, then download a full list from the Transition Town website,

At the neighborhood level, what skills can each of us bring? That was speaker Kris Grangaard’s focus; she’s a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trainer for Falcon Heights. Ramsey County residents can take the nine-week Wednesday-night CERT training through the county. Topics include hazard awareness and planning, fire suppression, disaster first-aid, search and rescue, and more. The next session runs March 14-May 9, 2018. For information, visit and enter the search term “Community Emergency Response Team.”

At the city level, “hero support” is part of Lucy Angelis’ job as a St. Paul emergency management coordinator. Emergency managers create order from the chaos of weather disasters, earthquakes or violent incidents. As agency officials set priorities for responding, these managers translate the whats into hows, so the boots on the ground—the heroes—have the direction and the supplies they need.

All three speakers agreed that emergency-response agencies expect residents to take care of themselves for up to three days if a disaster strikes. You can find out more about how to do that at the Stay Safe website,, or read “Tom Brown’s Field Guide to City and Suburban Survival.”

In the big picture, we can also build resilience through a more local, sustainable economy. A community that produces much of its own food, energy and other necessities can bounce back more easily from any disruption.


Local Economy group to meet Jan. 22

“That’s partly why we formed the Local Economy group,” said Pat Thompson, who co-leads the new group with Sherman Eagles. “We live in a globally interdependent economy, but if we can bring at least some of our money home, we’ll all be stronger in the long run.” Members are now researching topics, such as:

  • rolling over IRAs to allow for local investment
  • starting a real estate investment co-op, similar to Minneapolis’ NorthEast Investment Co-op
  • forming an investment club or chapter of Cooperative Principle
  • launching a local nonprofit community investment fund
  • collaborating with Slow Money Minnesota


All are welcome to the next meeting, Monday, Jan. 22, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Lori’s Coffee House, 1441 N. Cleveland Ave. For more information, email There will be updates on the Transition Town – ASAP website.


Mindy Keskinen is a book editor who also coordinates communications for Transition Town – ASAP.



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