MISSOULA – Researchers from the University of Montana Department of Geosciences have collaborated with the City of Missoula and Missoula County to launch Missoula Ready, a disaster preparedness website. The tool is the first of its kind available in the western United States.
Missoula Ready is online at https://hazardready.org/.
The concept was the brainchild of UM researcher Rebecca Bendick, a geosciences associate professor who spent the past two decades responding to catastrophic earthquakes, mostly in Asia.
“One of the common things that we find everywhere is that the affected people had little or no idea of their exposure to high risk, so they took no steps to be prepared,” Bendick said. “My students and I have tried over the years to share basic information about earthquakes to those affected populations, but I also realized that my own community had the same lack of information. So we created Missoula Ready so Missoulians could easily access information to protect themselves strategically.”
The City of Missoula and Missoula County both contributed data and content to the product.
“Often our biggest challenge is conveying specific risks to the public, especially if those risks are geographically unique,” County Commissioner Cola Rowley said. “Our hope is that residents will use this information to increase awareness and overall preparedness for the hazards that exist in our county.”
She added that the timing of the launch in the spring when there is high flood risk in Missoula County could not be better.
Bendick said the site is user friendly and will be updated frequently as new data becomes available. Users can enter an address, click on a location, or use their current location from a mobile device.
For a given location, content is populated describing each relevant hazard, its most likely intensity, a worst-case scenario, historical information about past events and appropriate information about how to prepare for and mitigate risk.
Information about emergency response, such as who to call, the kinds of services available and the likely response time also are provided. Future versions will also serve near real-time information about ongoing incidents.