Monday, November 14, 2011

An Inspirational Visit with Michael Lienau

After a life-altering experience, Michael Lienau is a firm believer in emergency preparedness. I recently attended a presentation of Michael Lienau’s in which he spoke of personal and business emergency preparedness.

Lienau was a close observer of Mount St. Helens during its second eruption on May 25, 1980. Too close. At age twenty and a life-long film buff, he’d planned to go to film school in Northern California. His plans were waylaid when Mount St. Helens erupted May 18, 1980. He made his way to the Mount St. Helens area to film the rivers that swelled with volcanic sediment. He joined a Seattle production company and flew through black clouds of ash, filming the blast from above.

When the second, smaller blast of May 25 occurred, Lienau and the production company were at the base of the mountain. The sky rained ash for seven hours, trapping the party in the backcountry for four days. They were unprepared for such an emergency and fought fatigue, hunger and turmoil.

It was a life-changing event, both professionally and spiritually. There was a strong possibility they might lose their lives. “It was one of those things that shaped my life,” he says. He began freelancing film work, inspired by his experience and the people whose lives were affected by the blast.

Lienau filmed “The Fire Below Us: Remembering Mount St. Helens,” which was first aired in 1994 on National Geographic television. He later made “Fire Mountains of the West” and “Cascadia: The Hidden Fire,” two films examining the present geologic and volcanic dangers of the Pacific Northwest.

Today, still an active cinematographer, Lienau encourages people to be prepared for disaster. “Preparedness is easy, inexpensive and you’ll never regret it.” Lienau’s particular concern is the strong possibility of a disastrous earthquake in the Northwest. The Cascadia Subduction Zone is one of the largest geologic faults in the nation, capable of generating a truly catastrophic 9+ earthquake.

By following FEMA’s recommendation--Make a plan, Make a kit, and Be informed--we can ensure preparedness. FEMA suggests a minimum 3-day Disaster Supply Kit that includes:
– One gallon of water per person per day, plus regular chlorine bleach for purifying more water
– Non-perishable food for each person per day
– Medications / first aid supplies
– Flashlight / extra batteries / light sticks
– Toiletries (including toilet paper, feminine supplies, soap, personal hygiene supplies)
– Important documents (wills, insurance papers, etc)
– Money, including small bills and change
– Multi-Purpose tools, garbage & zip lock bags
– Radio (battery or wind-up) / extra batteries
– Special needs for elderly, baby, pets
– Extra clothes / shoes / blankets

Lienau emphasizes the need to have food and supplies on hand. “If we give some time to preparedness in our families, neighborhoods and communities, it alleviates fear and strengthens our response systems.”


Arletta Dawdy said...

When the disaster hits is not the time to think of what's needed. When my family and I were flooded, I left an important family Bible vulnerable to the rising waters; inserting paper towels between the pages in the aftermath and overnighting it to family in New Jersey was not a solution since it was their family Bible (my step.)Haven't heard from them since....good information here from Mary and Lienau.

Eunice Boeve said...

Good advice for all. Interesting account as well. Did he or any of the ones trapped with him have an actual spiritual experience or did he just realize he might not live forever?

Mary E. Trimble said...

Yes, he actually had an actual spiritual experience. He heard a voice say, "Michael, look over your left shoulder." Then he saw the skeleton of a tree shaped like a cross. Just beyond it a helicopter came toward them and they were rescued. (He tells the story a lot better than that, however.)