Gov. Christine Gregoire has ordered the head of WA’s Emergency Management Division to review how the state responded to the recent wind storm and power outage. My guess is that the report will be mixed.
There are of course a lot of things we need to do better, but I’ve got a suggestion that’s pretty straight forward, and would surely ease the crisis in the wake of future disasters: require the installation of backup generators at filling stations.
Residents throughout the Puget Sound region faced an artificial fuel shortage in the days following the wind storm due to power outages that left filling stations unable to pump gas. Had this been a major disaster — like a massive earthquake — this fuel shortage would have greatly magnified the human misery, preventing residents who had lost their homes from leaving the region. And in the end, it’s not much good installing a generator at your home or business if you are unable to purchase the fuel to run it during a prolonged power outage.
Gas stations are a critical part of our transportation and economic infrastructure, especially in such an automobile-centric region. It only makes sense that we attempt to keep them operating during future emergencies.
I’m not sure what the costs would be, but it’s hard to imagine that a backup generator and hookup sufficient to run the pumps would cost much more than a few thousand dollars per station. And it is very hard to argue that a state law mandating and/or heavily incentivizing such installations would not be in the public interest.
I dunno… just seems like common sense to me.