When the next thunderstorm, ice storm or other disaster happens in the area, how well would you and your neighbors be prepared to handle it?
The statewide program Map Your Neighborhood (MYN) hopes to be able to answer that question.
MYN focuses on bringing neighbors—15-20 in an urban setting and 5-7 in a rural setting—together to be prepared and self-reliant in the first hours of a disaster happening.
Greg Hempen, commissioner for the Missouri Seismic Safety Commission and the trainer for Missouri’s MYN, said that in the first hour of a disaster, first responders, who are policemen, firemen and medical personnel are usually not available. In that hour, it’s crucial for neighbors to work together in order to save a life, mitigate damage and reduce injury.
“It’s simple to take action and be prepared,” he said. “People are empowered (through MYN) to take action after any type of disaster.”
The statewide program, which started in 2010, was developed and implemented in the state of Washington 25 years ago. Hempen said that the program was very active and critical following the Nisqually earthquake in 2001.
Hempen first heard of the program four years ago at a conference and worked to bring the program to Missouri soon thereafter. Once the Missouri Seismic Safety Commission decided to endorse the program, it was just a matter of getting the materials for the program, which have been copyrighted in Washington but have been adapted and expanded for Missouri.
Currently, binders are available to the public in the city and county libraries, such as the , about the program.
Hempen has done a number of informational sessions across the state for the program and has been working with state and county departments to provide more information about the program. For example, he received a grant from the Missouri Department of Health to go to Joplin in August and speak to people about the program.
He said that the St. Louis City and County Emergency Management Agencies have also expressed interest in getting more information about the program. He’s trained more than 400 people across St. Louis City and St. Louis County on the program.
“It should be spread across the country, and I’m doing my part to spread across Missouri,” Hempen said.
Check out our follow-up coverage about how to make MYN a part of your neighborhood early next week.