Reaching Hard-to-Reach Communities

By Beatriz Hummell

On a cold and windy Thursday in January I traveled from Vancouver, WA to Cathlamet, WA to present a community preparedness workshop at the local community center. As I drove, it suddenly struck me that I was on my way to do what I’ve wanted to do since I was 7 years old: to help vulnerable populations.

When it comes to natural disasters, a variety of conditions make communities vulnerable in different ways. After I started working in disaster preparedness, I realized how big of a challenge it is to deliver information to diverse populations. What was especially clear was that small and rural communities are especially hard to reach.

Arriving at the Cathlamet Community Center, the heart of a small town home to fewer than 550 people, I was happy to find five students there waiting! A few parents and grandparents also participated and I was pleased to see just how interested students and their families were in preparedness. They asbeatrizked several questions and were extremely thankful that I was there. I was reminded that even a small crowd can make a big contribution in a small and rural community. They are now be better prepared for disaster.

This experience also reminded me how hard it is to spread preparedness training to the masses. Small and rural communities require our special attention. Although now I am happy to say that in Cathlamet, WA, a handful of community members are better prepared than before I arrived.

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