Community Disaster Cache Planning Guide Helps Communities Prepare for Hazards


Along the Pacific Northwest coast, numerous groups have developed community disaster caches – stocks of supplies designed to enable a community to survive without federal or state aid during the days and weeks following an event like a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake and accompanying tsunami.

The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) and the Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) have released a comprehensive planning guide – written and prepared by Susan M. Graves Consulting, LLC – to help local communities navigate the many complex social and logistical issues to consider when developing a sustainable community disaster cache and make the process more manageable for those getting started.

“Although there are resources for disaster planning for individuals, there are notably fewer resources available to assist communities trying to plan at a larger scale,” explained Althea Rizzo, Geological Hazards Program Coordinator at OEM. “That’s because there are many complex social and logistical issues to consider when developing a community disaster cache. This planning guide draws upon many collective experiences and distills the information to help communities prepare for the next big disaster.”

Disaster caches take many forms and can be designed to accomplish different purposes. This planning guide was specifically designed for a response to an earthquake and tsunami, although the concepts are transferrable to other hazards.

According to Rizzo, “A Cascadia subduction zone earthquake and accompanying tsunami occurring today would be catastrophic, killing thousands, while displacing tens of thousands of residents and visitors. Many coastal communities are unprepared to deal with the level of destruction and disruption they will experience in the hours to days following the earthquake and tsunami.”

The planning guide explores and discusses the four main steps of a disaster cache development planning process – design, implementation, maintenance and deployment — necessary for creating feasible plans tailored to suit a community’s unique characteristics like population and geography.

The guide includes considerable information regarding what supplies and equipment to include in a cache, planning worksheets and templates, examples of written agreements, sample budgets and supply lists, and sample task cards. It also features 11 case studies where disaster cache projects have been successfully implemented, highlighting what has worked for others.

“Disaster caches need to be established in every coastal community to enable the public to survive without federal or state aid during the days and weeks after a Cascadia quake and tsunami. We’re grateful to all the participants who shared their time, experience, insights, and disaster cache plans for the benefit of others to help create this planning guide, which will ultimately save countless lives,” added Rizzo.

The Earthquake and Tsunami Community Disaster Cache Planning Guide is available to view and download at

About Author

Chris Crabb is a Public Information Officer at the Oregon Department of Emergency Management, which coordinates and maintains a statewide emergency services system for emergency and disaster communications.

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