While some people who live near the Umatilla Chemical Depot didn't realize a full-scale drill was under way Wednesday, most said they had planned ahead about what to do if there's ever a real emergency involving chemical weapons.
Joe Rodriguez of Hermiston said he heard the Westminster chimes sound around 10:30 a.m., but he wasn't alarmed since he'd heard them before during drills.
The chimes, which sound differently than the much more abrasive sirens that would be heard in the event of an actual emergency, were set off as a part of the annual exercise by the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP).
"Most people know it's just a drill," said Liz Gibson of Irrigon. She heard the sirens go off but she paid little attention to it, saying she has a hard time deciphering the voice over the loudspeaker.
"How are you supposed to know if it's a drill or not?" she asked.
Rodriguez said his shelter-in-place kit is ready and waiting at home.
"I have the radio and the kit," he said. "I'm pretty much ready."
Daniel Santiago, a senior at Hermiston High School, said his family has a box full of the essentials ready in case they need to shelter-in-place.
"We have a box of canned food," he said. "We don't want to starve."
David Stephens of Hermiston said he, his wife and two children have added canned food and water to their shelter-in-place kits as a part of getting their response plans in place.
"I know it could happen any time," said David Stephens of Hermiston. It's just a part of living in the area."
Despite the warnings and preparation, Gibson said she was not very confident there would be anything she could do if something did go wrong. But she figures it's not worth fretting over.
"We live at the back door of it, let's get real," Gibson said. "I'm more concerned with my son being sent to Iraq then I am about the chemical depot."