Lawmaker wants Oregon schools to teach disaster preparedness

An Oregon Coast state legislator wants schools to teach students to prepare for events such as earthquakes, wildfires or tsunamis.

Democratic Representative David Gomberg had to flee his home near Lincoln City in 2020 in the face of a rapidly advancing wildfire. While her home was ultimately spared, Gomberg said her family’s hasty evacuation was made easier because they had a go-kit ready and a plan in place.

“It saved us time, it saved us the emotional wear and tear,” he said. “We knew what we had to do and were able to go out and do it.”

Gomberg said that while schools do a good job with fire drills or covert earthquake drills, “all of those things are designed to focus on something that’s happening right now. But what what we don’t do is…give students lots of information on how to prepare for a natural disaster.

Gomberg, who is up for re-election in November, said he wants to introduce a bill in the 2023 legislative session to require schools to dedicate at least one day a year to teaching students about disaster preparedness. The lesson plans could be tailored to the needs of different parts of the state, he said.

“What I envision is for the (Oregon) Department of Education to develop lesson plans, so that every teacher doesn’t have to put it together on their own,” said Gomberg said.