I am appalled at the total lack of critical emergency information by our local radio stations during the recent wildfire emergency in the Lincoln City/Otis area.
I have spoken with numerous local residents caught up in the evacuation frenzy, and all said they tried both AM and FM local stations to get emergency info and noted that stations were either off the air or broadcasting pre-recorded music — no information of absolutely any value to anyone in their automobile trapped in traffic during an emergency evacuation.
For an individual in this situation, the local broadcast radio stations would likely be their only option to get critical emergency updates. There was disruption in both Sprint and AT&T cell service, both for text messages as well as voice and data service. This makes it impossible to receive info from the county through the county’s Lincoln Alerts broadcast, which depends on cell text messaging, voice and data — all useless when cell towers are down. Though Lincoln Alerts gives the option of emergency messaging through a home landline, people were not in their homes, they were stuck in horrendous traffic in automobiles where there are only two options: AM/FM radio broadcast stations and cell voice/text messaging.
The federal EAS (Emergency Alert System) requires mandatory broadcast radio alerts only for the highest level alert. There are many of us in Lincoln City that will remember this past week very vividly, especially those who lost everything. For those fortunate enough to have lost nothing but maybe their refrigerator food, we will remember that we heard dead air or music when we needed much more.