(LATEST: KOMO helicopter crash victims identified; federal investigators on scene)
(Photo courtesy Jennifer, taken from crane in the area)
7:51 AM: If you are headed downtown, stay far away from the Seattle Center area – a helicopter is reported to have crashed, and there are fires on the ground, including at least two cars. KING and KOMO TV report it is a helicopter they use in a partnership – both of them are located in the area, KOMO right across the street from Seattle Center. Scanner indicates at least one person injured on the ground.
7:59 AM: Video uploaded by Alex McBurney shows the fire likely moments after it happened. Firefighters at the scene are working on extinguishing the fire as well as getting to any patients. Scanner also indicates authorities are now notifying aviation authorities – NTSB, FAA. We have heard discussion of one person hurt but have not heard other news of casualties. All regional news sources are of course covering this – we just want to reiterate, stay away from that area. We haven’t heard yet the full parameters of what’s blocked off, but Broad Street, 4th and 5th in that area for sure. For context, see the photo in this tweet by Seattle Times (WSB partner) reporter Brian Rosenthal - note the 5th/Broad McDonald’s in the background:
A helicopter appears to have crashed into two cars just outside the Space Needle. Massive police and fire response. pic.twitter.com/PPm8WfAVFF
— Brian M. Rosenthal (@brianmrosenthal) March 18, 2014
Street closures will continue for hours, if not – as one TV anchor just suggested – days. The helicopter is widely reported to belong to KOMO, which is right across Broad St. from the south side of the Needle.
8:16 AM: Seattle Fire has just tweeted that two people are confirmed dead at the scene. You can follow SFD’s Twitter stream here; SPD’s Twitter stream here. (You don’t need to be a Twitter user to see tweets via the web.)
9:33 AM: During a news conference just before 9 am, SFD confirmed that the people who died were both on the helicopter. One person hit on the ground is in the hospital. And they are still looking for someone who got out of their pickup truck and left the scene, just wanting to make sure s/he is OK. Your editor here worked at KOMO 1991-1999 and like everyone else sends thoughts and prayers to the families, friends, and co-workers of the victims, who have not yet been publicly identified. We’re moving on with today’s West Seattle news – the regional news outlets are all over this; just again keep in mind that the area will be closed to traffic, likely into tomorrow, so if you have to go anywhere near Seattle Center/Space Needle, expect detours. We will update our daily traffic watch if there are any official overviews on those.
10:18 AM: Mayor Murray will have a news conference at 10:30 – you should be able to see it live at seattlechannel.org. Meantime, apologies if you have had trouble getting into our site – interest in this story brought in a traffic crush; our server managers have opened a few more floodgates so it should be more accessible.
10:57 AM: The Times quotes KOMO as identifying one of the victims as longtime photojournalist Bill Strothman. Longtime KOMO anchor/reporter Connie Thompson (a West Seattleite) remembers him in a tweet:
So many fond memories Bill Strothman. So many adventures. Our hearts break more than words can express. pic.twitter.com/0JJLEnCGXU
— Connie Thompson (@ConnieKOMO) March 18, 2014
The pilot has been identified (update) as Gary Pfitzner. Here is a KOMO story about them.
LATE-NIGHT NOTE: All the roads in the area reopened by 7 pm, less than 12 hours after the crash, according to SDOT.
4:42 PM: Just got a call from someone asking about the smoke visible from Harbor Avenue, looking across the bay. There’s a big fire in the International District; the address on the SFD 911 log is 669 S. King Street. Here’s one of the photos SFD has tweeted:
Firefighters are fighting this as a defensive fire due to it being an abandoned building pic.twitter.com/WJWCT5KRev
— Seattle Fire Dept (@SeattleFire) December 25, 2013
8:39 PM UPDATE: Updated the Times link in the preceding paragraph – they now have a longer story elsewhere on their site. Also of note, West Seattle fire crews are assisting, per radio communication and the online 911 log, including Ladder 11, whose crew we had photographed earlier today assisting police on Genesee Hill, as well as Engine 11 from Highland Park and Engine 32 from The Junction.
WEDNESDAY MORNING NOTE: SFD published an update overnight; the fire wasn’t under control until almost 10:30 pm.
ORIGINAL FRIDAY REPORT: In case you hadn’t heard yet – President Obama is coming to Seattle on Sunday for political fundraisers, report citywide outlets including The Seattle Times (WSB partner), and that generally means two things for our area: Possible Air Force One sightings, and potential traffic effects when I-5 is closed for the motorcade. We don’t have specific times so far, but his first event will be in North Seattle, second one in Medina, and there’s at least one indication he’s staying downtown until Monday morning. Whatever we know by Sunday morning, we’ll include in our daily preview.
ADDED SATURDAY AFTERNOON: We now know that the President is due to arrive after 4 pm, and is indeed staying overnight, leaving Monday morning for San Francisco. Interestingly, Air Force One will not be at Boeing Field as usual – the official Presidential schedule says he is flying into and out of Sea-Tac.
ADDED SUNDAY MORNING: SPD has published details of closures/detours downtown while the President is staying overnight.
SUNDAY AFTERNOON: The President arrived on schedule and as of this update – 4:30 pm – is or will shortly be in transit to North Seattle for the first of the two private Democratic Party fundraisers he’s headlining (the second one is in Medina).
(Photos by Christina Chacharon)
In case you haven’t seen it for yourself yet, shining alongside the West Seattle Bridge ramps to/from I-5, there it is – the brand-new “R” atop the old Rainier Brewery. West Seattle photographer Christina Chacharon was among those at last night’s gala unveiling, which even included a “Batman”-style call into the clouds … er, fog:
After almost half a century, the old “R” (now on display at the Museum of History and Industry) came down 13 years ago, succeeded by a big green “T” for Tully’s Coffee. The newly installed replica, funded via a partnership between Rainier Beer’s owner Pabst and Columbia Distributing, weighs more than half a ton, has 235 light bulbs on each side, and is being permanently welded into place today.
Thanks to Joan for the reminder that the state is midway through a public-comment period on whether to charge tolls on the I-90 bridge, so if you have an opinion, now’s the time to share it. This week, there are two public meetings – 4:30-7:30 pm tomorrow at Mercer Island High School, 4-7 pm Wednesday at the Northwest African American School in Seattle. Full details on both are on this page, along with links where you can sign up NOW to speak at either meeting. You can also comment by e-mail: email@example.com.
Tolling has been proposed on I-90 to, in part, raise money for the new 520 bridge; this PDF includes more on this round of the comment process as well as the options that are under consideration – not with price tags, but with configurations, such as “just toll from Seattle to Mercer Island” or “just toll the HOV lanes.” This round of commenting runs through November 6th; a final decision is expected in 2015.
A situation on south Vashon Island shut down state-ferry traffic on that end of the island for hours, leading to heavier traffic on the north end, which handles ferries from Fauntleroy and Southworth. The King County Sheriff’s Office says this is what happened:
At about 11:15 A.M. today, the words of a suspected mentally ill man halted ferry traffic between Point Defiance and the Tahlequah ferry terminal on Vashon Island. A witness overheard a 48 year old Vashon Island man rambling about having explosives and wanting to detonate the explosive after a particular car disembarked the boat.
Bright sunshine and a bright smile from West Seattleite Angela Mascio when we stopped by for a few photos at Seattle’s first-ever San Gennaro Festival, which she and her family are presenting through 10 pm tonight and again 6 am-6 pm tomorrow in Georgetown. Yes, there’s food:
… and music!
… and as you can tell from the photos, all with an Italian theme. See our original story for more background; here’s the entertainment schedule; here’s the map to South Angelo Street, the little Georgetown street that’s closed to traffic for the festival.
One of this weekend’s biggest events in Seattle is a new event – the San Gennaro Festival. It’s happening in Georgetown – but the family behind it is from West Seattle, and wants to make sure you know you’re welcome! Angela Mascio contacted WSB to share that news, explaining:
We started a non-profit foundation called the San Gennaro Foundation of Seattle, which is planning the first annual San Gennaro Festival of Seattle to be held in Georgetown Sept 7th and 8th. It’s going to be a great festival with authentic Italian food, music, and wine :) There will be a kids’ area with different activities throughout the day. We chose the Puget Sound Blood Center to receive any proceeds from this first festival, and we’re also having a blood drive to celebrate the blood miracle of Saint Gennaro.
This festival began in New York as a way for immigrants to celebrate their culture. Today, that festival is about two weeks long and they close down all of Little Italy in New York. Many other major US cities have followed suite and have San Gennaro festivals, so we decided it was about time for one in Seattle.
10 am-10 pm Saturday and 10 am-6 pm Sunday, South Angelo Street in Georgetown will be closed for the festival. It’s where her family first started their businesses, and they still own a building there, Angela explained:
About 50ish years ago, my grandparents and my father and two of his sisters came over from Italy. My grandmother missed the fresh pasta from her father’s pasta company back in Italy, so she started making it in her basement. It grew into a business and their first location was on South Angelo Street in Georgetown. Mascio’s Pasta grew and my dad took it over eventually. It grew more, he sold his shares, and started his own company, again in Georgetown first (San Gennaro Foods, we manufacture Polenta). We’re currently in Kent.
Angela shared this link to her grandfather’s obituary from 1990. She also says her aunt has a business in Georgetown and revived the “Mascio’s Italian Specialty Foods” name. But enough about history – back to the festival. Here’s the entertainment schedule; here’s a map to the location.
With Boeing Field in clear view of parts of eastern West Seattle, we wanted to share this alert just in from King County about a drill tomorrow:
When catastrophic disasters strike, the number of people in need of medical care can quickly overwhelm hospitals. On Tuesday, April 30, King County hospitals and first responders will practice providing critical medical support in the event of a disaster in a neighboring state.
An emergency exercise held at King County International Airport/Boeing Field will test the region’s ability to receive patients evacuated by air from other states, transport them to local hospitals and triage them for medical care.
On the day of the exercise, 42 mock patients will arrive at King County International Airport/Boeing Field, simulating a flight arrival from another state. First responders will practice disaster triage protocols for the incoming patients, transferring them to ambulances and transporting them to local hospitals. Businesses and residences near King County International Airport/Boeing Field can expect to see a large number of participating ambulances and emergency vehicles at the airport. Emergency vehicles will not use sirens or emergency lights during this exercise. The drill will last from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.
(Photos by Nick Adams for WSB)
9:59 PM: Call it “moving day.” Or – night. At Burien’s Seahurst Park, the partial fin-whale carcass that washed up on Saturday is to be moved tonight.
WSB contributing photojournalist Nick Adams was there throughout the day as it was prepared for the move.
We’ll add more of Nick’s photos later tonight, as well as an update on tonight’s planned move.
11:23 PM UPDATE: Robin Lindsey from West Seattle-based Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network tells WSB, “I just heard from NOAA and the whale is officially off the beach and the tow is underway…
“A good day today with a lot of education on the beach in a team effort. … The whale is being taken to a remote location for natural decomposition and collection of the skull at a later date for educational and research purposes.” Watch for a post on the SS site tomorrow.
10:21 AM WEDNESDAY: The city of Burien, whose park system includes Seahurst, says the removal operation cost it $3,100. Meantime, the aforementioned post by Robin is up; she writes that the whale’s remains are now at the location where they’ll decompose naturally.
With everything else that’s been happening today, the saga of the dead fin whale at Seahurst Park slid out of the spotlight, but we do have two updates tonight: First, its resting place on the beach has finally been cordoned off to end the spate of illegal touching – thanks to “Diver Laura” James for allowing us to share her photo. Second, authorities are facing extra logistical challenges in trying to remove it, including those posed by what the whale’s carcass is missing - Robin Lindsey from Seal Sitters has been talking with federal and local officials and has an update online here. If you missed the previous coverage, the whale – missing about half of its body, not all lengthwise, so it’s still more than 50 feet long – washed up at Seahurst this past Saturday morning; researchers believe it was hit by a ship, but that might have happened many miles away.
(Photos by Nick Adams for WSB)
There may be a decision today on what will, or won’t, be done with the dead fin whale (an endangered species) that has drawn hundreds to the shore of Burien’s Seahurst Park the past two days. WSB contributing photojournalist Nick Adams returned to the beach on Sunday and shows us a scene of tributes and mourning as well as curiosity. Among those bringing flowers, 7-year-old Faith Hunter:
There was also the smelly reality of a multi-ton carcass, as Lucas Brooks noticed:
Some simply stood quietly to observe, and pay respects:
Fishing buddies Kyle Thope, right, and Corey Wiggins took a closeup look:
Ruby Rose (photo below) said she was gleaning information from the whale.
She told Nick, “I can receive information through my heart and my hands, and sometimes my third eye. … Whales are living libraries downloading information to me.” Others learned from the scene in a more conventional manner – Steve Knapp was there with his 7-year-old daughter Sera:
(Photos courtesy Isa Sorensen)
Since we report so often about marine mammals here on WSB, we’re mentioning this even though it’s south of our coverage area, after getting a call from someone who wanted to make sure we knew about it: A fin whale has washed up on the beach at Seahurst Park in Burien; KIRO TV quotes experts as saying they believe it died after being hit by a vessel. Isa Sorensen gave us permission to share some of his photos.
Coincidentally, tomorrow will mark exactly three years to the day since a gray whale stranded and died off southwesternmost West Seattle, in The Arroyos. That’s less than four miles from Seahurst, if you were going by water. KIRO says Cascadia Research Collective will do the necropsy; it has researched other such cases in years past (including one in Tacoma in 2009). Fin whales, by the way, are rare in Puget Sound – so rare, they’re not even on The Whale Trail’s list of commonly sighted species;
2:17 AM: Almost a year and a half after former West Seattleite Amanda Knox‘s return home – an Italian court has just revived the case, by throwing out the verdict. Here’s the latest from the AP via our partners at The Seattle Times. This all comes a month before her book “Waiting to be Heard” is due out, and with it at least one network TV interview.
3:08 AM: Knox has issued a statement, the AP reports (added to the same link as above), in which she declares this development “painful.” (added) ITV has published her statement in full.
Nine turbulent months after leaving Harbor Island’s Vigor Shipyards, the Shell drilling rigs Kulluk and Noble Discoverer have both been loaded onto giant Chinese ships to be taken to Asian shipyards. They both were set to head back here late last year when trouble struck in a variety of ways, including the Kulluk running aground on an Alaskan island. The video above, from Earthjustice, shows Kulluk being loaded onto the Xiang Rui Kou at Dutch Harbor, Alaska (still there as of this writing, per MarineTraffic.com). Shell is quoted as saying it’ll be heading to Singapore. Kulluk was here more than a year before departing last June; the Noble Discoverer, which spent less time here (though they left the same day), was loaded aboard an identical Chinese “dry tow” ship, the Xiang Yun Kou, earlier this month, headed for Korea (here are photos and backstory on its previous trouble). Alaskan news organizations quote Shell as saying it won’t try again to drill in the Arctic before next year.
5:06 PM: Seattle Fire units are helping North Highline with a big apartment fire in the 12300 block of Ambaum, not far south of White Center. More to come.
5:24 PM: We are in the area. TV choppers overhead. Traffic is now getting through both ways on Ambaum but slowly so avoid if you are headed this way.
6:03 PM: No injuries reported, according to our friends at KING 5. We’ve left the area after the situation seemed to ease – we saw three Seattle fire vehicles leaving, and several from other departments, including Renton and Tukwila, were waiting two blocks south just in case they were needed.
6:21 PM: While the assisting firefighters were summoned to the 12300 block of Ambaum, regional-media reports note that the building’s actual address is 1224 124th, just west of Ambaum, a 24-unit four-story building that’s 47 years old.
11:02 PM: KIRO TV reports that a baseboard-heater problem is blamed for the fire.
In case you haven’t heard – the state is thinking about charging tolls on the I-90 bridge across Lake Washington, to help pay for the new 520 bridge; the old one on 520 is already charging tolls. WSDOT is trying to get the word out about three open houses this week as part of the “environmental assessment” of the plan, and a way to have a say online, to. The meetings are tomorrow on Mercer Island, Wednesday in Bellevue, and – the closest one – Thursday at Yesler Community Center – all from 4-7 pm. They’re drop-in format; if you want to read up on the proposal, various documents and presentations are here.
If you can’t make it to a meeting, there’s an online form through which you can comment through February 22nd – find it here. (Note; WSDOT is advertising on WSB and other news publications to get the word out about this comment period.)
P.S. Opponents of I-90 tolls have set up a website – see their side of the story here.
8:59 AM: Today’s the day for the city’s first gun “buyback” – an invitation to citizens to turn over unwanted/unneeded firearms in exchange for compensation – in 20-plus years. It’s happening 9 am to 3 pm in a parking lot at 600 7th Avenue downtown [map], but could end earlier if they run out of the gift cards that are being offered. They’re also offering gift cards for “high-capacity magazines,” but only if turned in along with the weapon for which they were procured. The full FAQ about today’s event is here on the website of the Seattle Police Foundation. Among the sponsors/donors enabling today’s event is West Seattle’s Nucor, where the city says the guns will be melted down, to be turned into rebar.
3:27 PM: Big turnout, says SPD, though no total will be made public till a mayoral news briefing Monday.
Photojournalist Erika Schultz of The Seattle Times (WSB partner) has published a gallery of Friday night images from the final hours of Easy Street Records‘ Queen Anne store – see them here. The West Seattle store remains OPEN, but Queen Anne is now shut down, as announced by proprietor Matt Vaughan earlier this month. Its final hurrah will be an auction on Sunday; if you’re interested in some of the fixtures/memorabilia – even a banner signed by West Seattleite/rock icon Eddie Vedder – there’s an auction preview at the site 4-7 pm today (Saturday), and again 9 am Sunday until the live auction’s start at 11 am. (See lots of auction-item previews on the Easy Street website.)
(Bret Wiggins at Feedback Lounge El-Fest last August; photo by Nick Adams for WSB),
Love Elvis? Maybe so much that you are an ETA (Elvis Tribute Artist)? Or enough to offer your services as an ETA judge? In any or all of those categories, here’s your invitation to next Saturday’s 16th annual Seattle Invitationals, from Marlow Harris, who says West Seattleite’s Bret Wiggins (above) is expected back to defend his title. The event’s not here – it’s at the Experience Music Project‘s Sky Church, 8 pm next Saturday (January 12th) – but the invite’s gone out regionwide (and $15 advance tickets are on sale). The punk-rock Elvis band Graceland Five will start the night; El Vez “The Mexican Elvis” will MC. Here’s the call for help:
1. We are still looking for Elvi! Calling all Seattle-area Elvis Impersonators? Can you swivel and sway and belt out a song? Then contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you all the details.
2. We are still looking for judges! Contact us if interested.
Thank you. Thankyouverymuch!
(From Thursday: U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Zachary Painter)
Before it’s decided if Shell’s grounded drilling rig Kulluk can and will resume its tow back here for offseason maintenance, an effort is afoot not just to tow it off the Alaskan island where it’s stuck, but to move it 30 miles to a “safe harbor” for inspection. The Kulluk, which spent almost a year at Harbor Island’s Vigor Shipyards, got into trouble in bad weather more than a week ago, while being towed back here. Finally, after problems with tow lines and its tow vessel Aiviq – which spent time here last year too – the Kulluk went adrift and grounded New Year’s Eve on Kodiak Island (map), carrying more than 100,000 gallons of fuel, none of which is believed to have spilled. A “unified command” has since been set up to manage the salvage operation, and the Anchorage Daily News has a report on its Saturday briefing, saying that if the attempt to move the Kulluk is successful, then they’ll decide whether to resume towing it here.
SIDE NOTES: Seattle weather analyst Cliff Mass says the decision to tow it through stormy weather and seas was “misguided” and explains why; the Dutch Harbor Fisherman, meantime, has reported that the motivation for trying to move the rig out of Alaska involved taxes. One other link: The “unified command” organized for the salvage operation has its own website at kullukresponse.com, with a variety of materials and documents, including a partial transcript of the Saturday briefing.
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1:55 AM: The marker on the map is for Craig in southeastern Alaska, the reference point that authorities are using for a magnitude 7.6 earthquake that hit about an hour ago, around 60 miles west-southwest of Craig. Nearby areas of Alaska and B.C. had tsunami warnings; there was a tsunami advisory stretching as far south as the British Columbia-Washington border. See the warnings/advisories here. No word of any trouble so far. P.S. If you’re wondering how our area’s been doing with quake activity – we found this Pacific Northwest 2012 wrapup online.
2:02 AM: The USGS is now calling the quake 7.5.
2:37 AM: The tsunami advisory that had run south to the BC-Washington border is now canceled. Two months ago, there was a 7.7-magnitude quake in the Haidi Gwaii (formerly Queen Charlottes) region to the south of this quake’s location – we wrote about it here.
3:10 AM: If you needed a jolt to work on preparedness – here is a link we haven’t mentioned since that last regional quake: West Seattle Be Prepared, laden with information including your nearest “emergency-communication hub.” Know it, just in case.
3:23 PM: The last warnings up in Alaska/BC are no longer in effect.
While announcing today that his Lower Queen Anne location is closing after 12 years, Easy Street Records owner Matt Vaughan reiterated that West Seattle is NOT going anywhere. The announcement about Queen Anne is on the Easy Street website, where Vaughan explained that the Queen Anne landlord wanted a longer-term lease than he was ready to commit to. However, as reported here in February of last year, Vaughan also noted in today’s announcement about Queen Anne that, here in West Seattle, he DID recently renew long-term:
We recently signed a new 15-year lease at our original store in West Seattle, where we will carry on the Easy Street tradition of great in-stores, yummy breakfasts, tasty vinyl, and overall, an excellent selection of music.
The Easy Street Queen Anne location’s last day of operation is January 18; Vaughan writes that a Chase Bank branch is moving in. (Before Easy Street, you might remember the Queen Anne storefront as having been home to Tower once upon a time – we do.)
The King County Sheriff’s Office is hoping someone can help solve a $2 million heist. From KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Cindi West:
More than 7,000 Wii game consoles were stolen from a distributing warehouse in SeaTac in the last 24 hours and detectives are asking for the public’s help in locating the van and trailers they were stolen in.
Employees at Seattle Air Cargo in the 19100 blk of Des Moines Memorial Dr said the theft occurred sometime between 9pm Saturday night and noon on Sunday. The suspects used forklifts on the premises to load up two 53’ trailers and a box van with at least 64 pallets of Wii game consoles.
Both Trailers are 53’ in length, white in color and have the name “McKinney” on the side:
The box van is a large International van with “Seattle Air Cargo” written on the doors. (Note: Seattle Air Cargo is NOT written on the side of the box, only the doors):
Trailer #1- California license plate 4HB3365 with a trailer number 533457
Trailer #2- California license plate 4EA5521 with trailer number 531841
Box Van- make “International” Washington license plate B40622K
Detectives believe the suspects drove two tractor trucks to the warehouse and used forklifts inside to load up the trailers and box van with the pallets of Wii games. Detectives estimate the value of property stolen including the vehicles is over $2 million.
If you have information about this crime please call the King County Sheriff’s Office at (206) 296-3311 or 911 if you see any of the vehicles.
(President Obama’s statement about the Connecticut massacre, added here 2 pm)
12:45 PM: We are working on various West Seattle stories for today, as always, but are having a tough time keeping our mind off the beyond-horrifying massacre at a school in Newtown, Connecticut. So before proceeding with today’s local news, a few notes:
*Federal leaders have called for flags to fly at half staff through December 18th.
*Governor Gregoire has issued a statement:
“Our hearts and unending prayers are with the community of Newtown and the people of Connecticut. This heartless act of violence is incomprehensible. All Washingtonians stand with me in expressing our profound sorrow and grief.”
*Via Facebook, King County Executive Dow Constantine has said this:
Columbine, Blacksburg, Newtown. It sounds like a litany of Civil War battlefields. But all the killing — the periodic massacres and the thousands of individual shootings between — the killing is about nothing: not slavery, or states’ rights, or nationhood. The killing is about nothing but mentally unstable people and our continued unwillingness to enact and enforce reasonable gun safety laws.
*Our friends at KING 5 have posted some links potentially helpful to families who find themselves needing to discuss it with their children. Here’s one – “Talking to Children About Violence.”
If we find out about anything locally related as the day goes on – prayer vigil, etc. – we will add it here.
ADDED 1:32 PM: St. James Cathedral downtown plans a community prayer service at 6:30 tonight. Also, Seattle Police say that though there are NO threats against local schools, they are stepping up patrols today anyway – per SPD Blotter.
ADDED 2:02 PM: Seattle Public Schools has shared with the media this letter from Superintendent José Banda:
We were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that occurred this morning at an elementary school in Connecticut. In the aftermath of such tragic events, we want to share with you how we are working to make sure that our students’ needs are fully addressed.
We are closely monitoring the situation and have asked our principals to be extra vigilant in their schools today. We have not heard of any threats in Seattle, and our Security department reports normal operations in schools throughout the District.
According to state law, schools must conduct at least one safety-related drill each month that school is in session. Every school has a safety plan that outlines procedures for prevention, mitigation, response and recovery in the event of a crisis. Please know that we take safety in our buildings very seriously; the well-being of our students is our top concern.
It is a struggle for adults and children alike to try to comprehend why and how such a senseless and shocking incident could occur. Excessive and repeated media viewing can create increased anxiety and therefore limiting ongoing exposure is recommended. We are coordinating with schools and school guidance counselors to provide emotional support for students next week. Additionally, talking about the incident can be a healthy way for families to process their feelings and reactions to an event of this nature.
How to help children cope:
• Listen to and accept children’s feelings.
• Give honest, simple, brief answers to their questions.
• Make sure they understand your answers and the meaning you intend.
• Use words or phrases that won’t confuse a child or make the world more frightening.
• Create opportunities for children to talk with each other about what happened and how they are feeling.
• Give your child an honest explanation. If you are feeling so upset you don’t want to talk about what happened, you may want to take “time out” and ask a trusted family friend to help.
• If children keep asking the same question over and over again it is because they are trying to understand; trying to make sense out of the disruption and confusion in their world. Younger children will not understand that death is permanent, so their repeated inquiries are because they expect everything to return to normal.
• If the child feels guilty, ask him or her to explain what happened. Listen carefully to whether he or she attaches a sense of responsibility to some part of the description. Explain the facts of the situation and emphasize that no one, least of all the child, could have prevented it.
• Let the school help. The child’s teacher can be sensitive to changes in the child’s behavior and will be able to respond in a helpful way.
• Even if you feel the world is an unsafe place, you can reassure your child by saying, “The event is over. Now we’ll do everything possible to stay safe, and together we can help get things back to normal.”
• Notice when children have questions and want to talk.
• Be especially loving and supportive; children need you even more at this time.
Today is a tragic day. Our thoughts and hearts go out to the students, staff and families at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
2:47 PM: A reader also have forwarded us a letter sent home by Hope Lutheran School‘s principal to her school’s families:
Hope School Families,
We are so sad to hear of the news today from the school in Connecticut. The news has already come up with our middle school students this morning, and we are praying for the families affected by this tragedy. We have asked our older students to keep the news to themselves so we can allow you as parents/guardians to decide how much to share or not share with our younger students, and so that you can help them process this sad news.
Our students are safe and sound, and so we just wanted to give you that reassurance as well.
Blessings to you today,
Mrs. Okabayashi, on behalf of the Hope staff
Psalms 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble
Also, from the governor’s office:
Governor Chris Gregoire has directed that flags at all Washington State agency facilities be lowered to half staff as per President Obama’s proclamation as a mark of respect for the victims of today’s tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut.
Flags should remain at half-staff until sunset/close of business on Tuesday, December 18.
Other government entities, citizens and businesses are encouraged to join this recognition.
5:30 PM: Mayor McGinn has issued a statement too – read it here.
ADDED EARLY SATURDAY: Here’s an agency in Newtown that’s accepting donations on behalf of those affected by the massacre. (Hat tip to West Seattle Fabric Company, which is donating part of its proceeds to the agency.)
Also: A fund set up by the local United Way (in Connecticut) – info here.
9:49 PM: There’s a lot of conflicting information circulating right now so just in case you are confused or worried – yes, there WAS a 7.7 magnitude earthquake in B.C. but NO, there is NO tsunami warning for our state, anywhere. Here is the actual warning, ONLY for areas from the northern tip of Vancouver Island northward – Vancouver itself is not even affected. The warnings unfortunately are confusingly written – but “information only” for our area means nothing more than “we thought you might want to know that this warning is in effect SOMEPLACE ELSE.” Also, note that while “tsunami” no doubt conjures images of the terrifying events in Japan, much more often, it is barely a ripple. That said, *IF* there is ever a tsunami alert for someplace you are, do NOT wait around to see if it’s a ripple – get inland! – but once again, NO WARNING AFFECTING OUR STATE TONIGHT. We will of course keep watch. And this is always a great reminder for preparedness. (More on that in a separate story later!)
10:04 PM: To illustrate the above point, Canadian sources report a 44-centimeter-high wave at Langara Island in the
Queen Charlottes Haida Gwaii area. Here’s how far away that is from us (and Vancouver):
View Larger Map
The newest version of the tsunami alert now includes an ADVISORY for the rest of the B.C. coast – still nothing for our state. Read it here, and watch for updates at tsunami.gov. (We will add that link to the WSB Weather page tonight so it’ll always be there for reference.)
11:12 PM UPDATE: A few more notes – while there is an *advisory* for Southern Oregon and Northern California (here’s the latest update, from half an hour ago), still nothing for any part of Washington. In B.C., they still haven’t seen anything higher than 50 centimeters (not even 2 feet high). As noted in comments, there’s an alert for Hawaii – here’s live coverage from a TV station there.
11:27 PM UPDATE: The alert for parts of B.C. and Alaska is downgraded to an advisory.
12:24 AM UPDATE: We’re continuing to listen to the Honolulu TV stream referenced above. Whatever they are going to get is expected to arrive in about an hour.
1:43 AM UPDATE: Still nothing of note in Hawaii, according to that TV stream. The warning is still in effect; the advisory for Alaska/BC has been canceled.
3:14 AM UPDATE: Hawaii still OK but no “all-clear” yet. No definitive word on how the remote areas near the epicenter fared, but we did hear via the Hawaii live stream a phone interview with a woman who was at a wedding in the area when the quake hit.
Just in from SDOT, the customary weekly list of what’s happening elsewhere in the city, which we share here so you won’t be surprised to suddenly happen onto a roadblock/crowd/traffic jam/etc.:
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