Mar 142011

What we are missing for the Transition agenda on Lummi Island is a sense of urgency. But when nature speaks in the form of an earthquake or hurricane we stop for a moment and listen. When a nuclear reactor melts down and the fallout starts blowing our way, we give some thought to iodine. But it takes something local, like a possible ferry shutdown, to really get our attention. The Law of NIMBY takes precedence. It’s difficult to develop a sense of urgency unless we are directly affected by an issue. Cherry Point isn’t too far away and the thought of coal dust floating down the northeast wind piques our interest. Even though we’ll rarely drink the waters of Lake Whatcom the idea of more pollution there seems icky and untoward. We might get a glass full of it if we eat out in Bellingham.

So, take a look at the video above and imagine even half as much water surging around this island inundating those at sea level and tearing chunks  of earth from the steep banks, pulling down trees and undermining the roads.

Nature seems to be upping the ante of late with quakes, tsunamis, floods, droughts and fires. The economy is swirling down the toilet but at the same time we are paying for foreign wars with factions lobbying for even more involvement. Almost half the population spends more than it makes in a given year. There’s a lot to spend it on. We got eighteen catalogs last week.

It’s encouraging that on Lummi Island Disaster Preparedness seems once again to be a topic of discussion. It’s timely and necessary that we get organized to help each other out by being as ready as we can be for a wide range of possibilities. Organizations on the island are taking responsibility for specific functions like food, water and shelter so that we might be able to tend to anyone adversely affected by an unpredicted event. At its essence disaster preparedness needs to be flexible, ready to deal with a myriad of problems.

In my professional career I earned the designation “Associate in Risk Management.”¬† One of the tenets of risk management is to spread the risk. That is, not put all of ones eggs in one basket. I haven’t played much poker, probably because of what I learned in Risk Management, but in poker, a similar technique is going “all in.”

Lummi Island, led by PLIC, went all in on day one with the slogan of “Gooseberry Point or Bust.” It might have been nice, in Risk Management or even poker terms, to have spread the risk a bit, worked on some alternatives and contingencies, made series head fakes towards the end of Slater Road, feints toward Bellingham and serious looking plans for Fairhaven. Instead our naval experts shot down the alternatives one by one using weather, wave and distance as the reasons and, more or less, daring lubbers to take issue with them.

The Lummis used to paddle around in these things trading up into Canada.

Now the situation is getting a bit out of hand with the Lummis making all manner of unsubstantiated claims and the County defensively trying to counter them. Lummi Islanders are crying, “We’re all going to die.” (Or, at least not be able to get to work).

It’s hard for me not to believe that the County’s negotiating hand could have been stronger by having a well thought alternative plan or plans to by pass Gooseberry Point and the Lummi Nation. There’s still time for this. It’s unlikely that the Lummis will stop the ferry in April, a PR disaster of volcanic proportion. It’s unlikely also that there will be a complete resolution. After all, the parking lot will go away next year, the costs have yet to be determined and “Why are they tearing down that building by the ferry line?”

Our Island sense of urgency, when we look at video or photos from Japan, is clearly misplaced. There are actually more important things to be thinking about. Really bad news might redirect it. But who wants more bad news?


  6 Responses to “A Sense of Urgency”

  1. I feel numb…. Its hard to see that footage and not feel the pain of so many lives lost. The Red Cross is a good agency for sending donations. The ferry issue seems far away right now.

  2. “Be Prepared”
    Good words to live by, as taught to so many of us boys in various scouting programs over the years.
    I can’t imagine any sea captain putting to sea, without life rafts, radios or locator beacons. Likewise any pilot flying in the clouds cross country without charts would be nuts.
    I would guess most islanders are much better prepared than most big city dwellers, and therein lies the rub. We’ll be the last to get any relief in case of a major, area-wide disaster. Far too few resources and millions of under prepared populations would be in peril, consuming all available supplies for months.
    A tsunami wave from a similar quake off our coast will likely lower land levels by up to 3 ft permanently, and be subject to 5-10 feet of surge (USGS). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the math, but Gooseberry Pt is likely one of the first things to go.
    Maybe it’s time for us to dust off some of those merit badges, and think our way through most of this.
    I’m in.

  3. One can only hope the Siege of Lummi Island comes out better than the 1973 Siege of Wounded Knee. It is hard to comprehend why the Federal Government is allowing this to go this far. It appears our County Executive is expecting something untoward to occur, as he has promised to ride the Whatcon Chief on April 11th. My prayers are with the people of Japan, those on Lummi Island, and those on the Lummi Reservation.

  4. One of the reasons I follow Randy’s blog is his focus on reality and preparedness for islanders. For contrast check out a Whidbey blog where the burning issue is how local women are wrapping Langley’s trees and sign posts with knitted goods — granny graffiti.

  5. Which I started by dressing a feminine looking tree in a bikini and 3D glasses back in ’98 for an art show. Fun times.
    Here in LA they have some trees almost entirely covered in sweaters made to fit now.

  6. I’m not sure what peace of mind is worth, but it certainly has value.
    As my own ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to the situation in Japan, I loggered in 1/4 million calories of beans, peas, rice, and flour to the emergency ration bins (150 lbs. of food).
    It was actually was quite cheap to do at Cash and Carry, near Hardware Sales. Everything in nicely sealed 25# bags, which fit nicely into my Fred Meyer, clear tubs.
    All in all, I’m out $145, or maybe just food banking for the next big round of price increases. It doesn’t really matter.
    My peace of mind has been satisfied by at least double that, so I’m happy now.

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