West Seattle, Washington
After that early-morning 7.9-magnitude Gulf of Alaska earthquake, we want to remind you about the West Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs – shown on the map above (and here – plus there’s a list under the map on this page, as well as printable files). Memorize the location of the one nearest your home, and be sure your loved ones know about it too. Each is a spot, maintained by volunteers, that would be set up for neighborhood communication in case of catastrophe (a big earthquake is the most likely, in our region). Government leaders have long been warning that resources will be overwhelmed if something major happens, so neighbors have to be ready to help each other – and these are the places where that help will be coordinated. If you’re not near one, here’s how to get one going in your area.
If your New Year’s resolutions include learning new skills – we’re spotlighting interesting classes coming up in early 2018. Including this one, announced by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary:
Suddenly In Command
Sunday, January 7, 2018, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
A class for the inexperienced boater to prepare you for an emergency situation on board and what to do if something were to happen to the “skipper.” Free and open to the public! Taught by volunteers from the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. Venue: West Seattle Library meeting room. 2306 42nd Ave SW. To sign up and for more information, go to our registration page or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Get on the air in 2018! The announcement just out of the WSB inbox:
Is learning a new skill one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2018? If so, the West Seattle Amateur Radio Club has an old-but-new opportunity for you.
In late January, the Club will be offering classes so you can learn about amateur (ham) radio and take the test to get your FCC license, all in the same weekend.
And while ham radio has been around a long time, there are many new applications which are being adapted to take advantage of amateur band radio frequencies. Did you know that you can now send email over radio waves and create your own Wi-Fi using radio equipment?
“Our club likes to say ‘it’s not your grandfather’s ham radio any more’,” says Ron Zuber, president of the club. “We know that ham radio is the best and most fundamental way of communicating when all other methods are unavailable; we are also incorporating new technologies and equipment that go beyond simple voice communications.”
If you’re interested, details are in these flyers (PDF here, or embedded below):
As you can see, they knew what to do – and got the all-clear to emerge after 60 seconds:
Genesee Hill – which, at just one year old, has plenty of upgraded seismic-safety features – was by no means the only school participating today, but Seattle Public Schools chose it as the school to host interested media, like us. It also became a teaching occasion:
Those students were showing classmates a map with a closer look at the Pacific Rim’s “Ring of Fire” quake-fault-and-volcano zone. Some learned about emergency supplies by tasting them:
(The review: A bit sweet. Turned out it contained some coconut water.) Students were also asked to tell their neighbors one thing they would do in case of an emergency:
P.S. One important extra lesson for West Seattleites – separate from today’s official event but something you need to know – your nearest Emergency Communication Hub!
Thanks to the texter who sent that photo of sandbags outside Delridge Community Center, a traditional pickup spot for those who live in flood-prone areas of West Seattle – particularly along nearby Longfellow Creek (which flooded in a big way 10 years ago). Meantime, the approaching storm now looks to be the rainiest on Wednesday and Thursday, so you have a little more time to clear your storm drain(s) and take other preparatory steps.
Though the weather’s been relatively calm otherwise, Friday’s breeziness might have reminded you that windstorm season is getting closer. And with – sometimes without – wind, comes power trouble. That’s why Seattle City Light invited media crews to its SODO yard (the one next to the West Seattle Bridge on 4th Avenue South) today. The message was twofold: City Light is working to upgrade technology to shorten outages – and urges you to be ready for them. Here’s spokesperson Scott Thomsen:
The briefing included an explanation of what some describe as “transformer explosions” – they are actually fuses that blow protectively:
When a tree falls into power lines, or heavy ice and snow weigh down branches that then cross two or more power lines, it creates a short circuit. The resulting power surge that could damage equipment. Utilities have circuit breakers and fuses in place to protect equipment, such as the transformers that reduce the voltage of electricity from the distribution grid to the service level voltage for your home or business. Those breakers open and fuses blow to isolate damage and protect other equipment, which reduces the likelihood of prolonged power outages for entire neighborhoods.
Once power is out, crews have to both fix the problem and route power around it. New technology is being tested that will automatically handle the latter. In the meantime, SCL continues to take preventive measures such as tree-trimming and vegetation-clearing along 600 miles of power lines every year.
Though SCL is also starting to install automated meters that will give the system a better idea of who’s out and where, they still ask you to call when the power goes out – 206-684-3000 – keep that number in your phone. And check out these preparedness checklists – before the weather gets into the potential-outage zone.
(2017 West Seattle Bee Festival photo by Karen Berge)
The photo is from last May’s West Seattle Bee Festival, with Cindi Barker teaching kids about preparedness via the “Wheel of Misfortune.” Cindi’s been volunteering for many years to organize and teach fellow West Seattleites how to be ready for disasters and other emergencies – and to share that knowledge with others outside this area – and we just received this announcement that she’s won a national award!
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that Cindi Barker has been selected as one of the 11 Individual and Community Preparedness Award recipients from around the country.
Cindi Barker was chosen to receive the 2017 Community Preparedness Champions Award for her development of Emergency Communication hubs and the creation of the “Hub-in-a-Box” program for Seattle, Washington residents. Earthquakes are a high risk for Seattle residents due to multiple fault lines in the area. To help residents prepare for disaster, Ms. Barker started developing Emergency Communication hubs. These hubs are agreed-upon meeting places where people can gather, organize, and strategize to help one another in the event of a major earthquake. Recently, she concentrated her efforts in predominantly lower socioeconomic areas to facilitate their preparedness efforts. This resulted in the creation of the “Hub-in-a-Box” Program, an effort to help communities easily prepare hubs. Seattle has roughly 135 Emergency Communication hubs spread throughout the city.
“FEMA is proud to recognize the great efforts of individuals and organizations who are helping to create a national culture of preparedness,” said Sharon Loper, Acting Administrator FEMA Region 10. “When we work together in our communities, we are stronger, and more resilient.”
Cindi Barker was recognized by Sharon Loper on Wednesday, September 27 to congratulate her on her efforts. Additionally, Cindi and all award recipients will be recognized in a webinar hosted by FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division. Awardees will be invited to share their experiences, success stories, and lessons learned with fellow emergency management leaders.
Emergency management is most effective when the whole community is engaged and involved. Faith-based organizations, service agencies, businesses and associations, tribal organizations, youth and older Americans, and people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs, can make a real difference in their communities before, during, and after disasters. Each year, FEMA honors individuals and organizations who excel at inspiring the public to be ready if a tornado, hurricane, wildfire, or other disaster were to strike their community.
You can read more about the hubs here – and be sure to make note of the one nearest your residence!
P.S. Cindi is active with West Seattle Be Prepared, whose other leaders Karen Berge and Deb Greer talked about the hubs and other preparedness issues at last night’s West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network meeting (WSB coverage here).
From the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network‘s first meeting of fall 2017:
As everybody went around the room introducing themselves, WSBWCN co-founders Karen Berge and Deb Greer invited them to share what was happening in their neighborhoods. “We’re under siege,” declared one man from a street over Beach Drive, with concerns including car prowls. A resident of Beach Drive itself said that somebody opened his car hatch and another in his neighborhood last night – all cars with a keyless entry system, so he wondered if devices that hijack those systems might have been involved, and several attendees shared stories. Another man mentioned living in the Arbor Heights neighborhood where police had been searching for a burglar on Monday; another woman from south of Admiral said the burglar is lucky the woman whose house he tried to break into – a friend of hers – didn’t catch him.
Those were just a few of the stories. On to the rest of the meeting, starting with the SPD briefing:
Neighborhood cohesiveness and collaboration are ultimately what the West Seattle Block Watch Captains’ Network is all about. But that doesn’t just involve crime and safety … another big issue for neighborhoods is emergency/disaster preparedness. And with so many reminders lately of that topic’s importance, it’s one of the topics on the WSBWCN meeting agenda for tomorrow night (Tuesday, September 26th). 6:30 pm, Southwest Precinct (2300 SW Webster). You don’t have to be a Block Watch Captain, or even be in a BW, to be there – all are welcome. More on the WSBWCN website.
The storm scenes from Houston might have convinced you to review your disaster preparedness. Local preparedness advocate Cindi Barker shares word of a unique opportunity that’s not in West Seattle but might be helpful because this kind of training isn’t being offered by the city of Seattle at all any more. She summarizes it as “a special class offered for people who have access issues (ADA, seniors, learning barriers) so that they can take a class and train in Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) skills, (which) can still be used by people at any time to respond to a disaster.” The Accessible CERT class is happening in Redmond, three full days:
It is a CERT class trained using a variety of learning styles. It is based on the concept of universal accessibility. It is designed for any person who self-identifies as having a disability and members of advocate groups for people with disabilities. Of course, all are welcome!
The class is three days long. Friday, September 29th, through October 1st, 2017. The first two days are interactive classroom training. The third day, participants will respond as a team to a staged mock disaster.
The entire course is free of charge, will have full accessibility, sign-language interpreters, lunch is included, and we will cover the cost of transportation for individuals with disabilities if requested.
Hundreds of volunteers all around the city spent their Saturday morning being sure they’re ready for something we all hope never happens – a disaster that takes out regular means of communications and forces Emergency Communication Hubs to set up and spring into action.
The scenario citywide was: Sixth day after a big earthquake. Three of West Seattle’s hubs were part of it. For the Sunrise Heights hub at EC Hughes Playground and the Junction hub behind Hope Lutheran Church, it was their first drill. We visited both. “If we can’t communicate, we can’t allocate,” observed Junction hub captain Delores Kannas. “Our big goal is to match resources with needs. … Different people will show up, and it will evolve.”
The mission of the hubs is to facilitate neighborhood resiliency, recognizing that after a massive disaster, official rescuers will be overwhelmed, and neighbors will have to figure out how to help each other, while also prioritizing any huge needs that might be able to draw outside help.
Besides tracking incoming requests, in ways as simple as notes on a fence, hub volunteers also communicate by radio, with each other and with city emergency officials, so volunteer amateur-radio operators are always a big part of drills.
An important part of your emergency preparedness is to know your nearest hub – here’s the updated map:
Click on the one that looks to be closest. You can also find the 13 hubs’ locations listed here (below that same map), on the West Seattle Be Prepared website, where you’ll find lots of other information to help you be ready, just in case.
You’ve heard it many times – The Big One is a matter of when, not if. So, are you ready in case of a major earthquake? Part of the preparedness is knowing where your nearest Emergency Communication Hub is:
The hubs are gathering places where you’ll be able to get and share information if the regular means of communication become inoperable/inaccessible in the wake of a quake (or other major disaster). The Hubs are run by volunteers, and they welcome your help during a drill this Saturday (July 29th) that will include the activation of hubs around the city, including three in West Seattle. Here’s the official announcement, which explains the scenario:
The exercise imagines that a catastrophic earthquake hit the Puget Sound area mid-day on Monday, July 24th, causing major damage to infrastructure and widespread casualties. For the Hubs and Spokes drill, it is now the morning of July 29th — day 6 of the disaster. Despite several aftershocks, many of the major infrastructural problems have received initial treatment from City departments, so attention is now being directed to neighborhood needs.
In this type of disaster, the neighborhood Hubs would mobilize immediately to assist with the immediate needs of residents, especially those not reached by regular emergency services. However, as the days after the event go by, as simulated in this exercise, resources may run low and volunteer availability and energy will flag.
The three hubs participating in West Seattle on Saturday are:
Alaska Junction – Hope Lutheran Church: 4456 42nd Ave SW
High Point – Neighborhood House: 6400 Sylvan Way SW
E.C. Hughes Playground – 29th Ave SW & SW Holden
You are welcome to show up (starting at 8 am) to be part of the drill as a “citizen actor” – you’ll be assigned a role to play. You’re also welcome to stop by at any point during the 8 am-1 pm exercise to observe, and to learn.
It’s more than a hobby … amateur radio is vital to emergency preparedness in our area and many others, too. So – both to practice their skills and to offer a public view into how amateur radio works – International Field Day is under way right now, with local operators gathered in the south field on the South Seattle College (6000 16th SW; WSB sponsor) campus on Puget Ridge through about 11 am Sunday.
You are invited to stop by any time before then (kids welcome too!) to see and hear how it works. While we were there, solar-power demonstrations were under way:
Just look for the antennas rigged in the field, and the tents nearby:
Thanks to Eric Baer for pointing out that a recent series of earthquakes just across Puget Sound in the Bremerton area continued with another one at 12:35 am today, and some “felt it here” reports came in from West Seattle.
— PNSN (@PNSN1) May 11, 2017
It wasn’t a major quake – but magnitude 3.6 isn’t a microquake, either. If you felt it, geologists would like to hear from you – here’s the link. One day earlier, a magnitude-3.4 quake hit the same area at 1:14 am; you can see the recent series of quakes by zooming in on this map.
P.S. This is just another reminder that we’re in earthquake country, so we’re reminding you about Neighborhood Emergency Communication Hubs – volunteer-organized gathering spots that would be activated if a major quake or other emergency interfered with regular channels of communication. This map shows you the 13 hubs in our area – click the one nearest you to see where it is, and make sure your families and neighbors know about it.
With an earthquake drill this morning, and what you might consider a “storm drill” last weekend, preparedness may well be on your mind. Today, we have news about West Seattle’s Emergency Communication Hubs:
The newest Hub, in The Junction, will be set up for an “opening” event this Sunday, noon-3 pm, so you can visit and get familiar with the concept. It’s in the Hope Lutheran Church parking lot, off SW Oregon just east of 42nd SW [map]. Even if that’s not the one closest to you, if you don’t know about the Hubs, now’s as good a time as ever. From the explanation on westseattlebeprepared.org (an awesome overall preparedness resource):
The Emergency Communication Hubs are locations around West Seattle which have been designated by neighborhood leaders and volunteers as community gathering sites if a major disaster makes it impossible to get information and help in the usual ways. These are locations that are easy to find and familiar to most people in each of these neighborhoods.
We’ve chosen outdoor locations because many buildings may be unsafe following an earthquake or similar type of disaster. After buildings have been checked for damage and deemed safe/usable, they will very likely be used as shelters. The Emergency Communication Hubs will be the initial gathering locations, since they can be predetermined for each neighborhood.
If you don’t see one close to you on the map – it’s because nobody has stepped up to get one going! Here’s information on how to get started.
P.S. The new Junction Hub had a preview event back in June, during a quake-scenario drill for which hubs were “activated” around the city.
Here’s hoping you are already ready for the stormy weather that’s on the way. But storm trouble is just one of the challenges you need to be prepared for. And you’re invited to find out about being ready for almost anything, via a free class that longtime WSB sponsor John Moore @ Northwest Insurance Group is presenting later this month:
6-8 pm Monday, October 24th @ The Kenney (7125 Fauntleroy Way SW):
Northwest Insurance Group is sponsoring a Disaster Preparedness Presentation and will have a guest speaker from the American Red Cross. Lucia Scordamaglia will bring sample supplies/kits and provide plenty of information and handouts addressing how to best prepare for winter storms, earthquakes, house fires, flooding, landslides, and other disasters that disrupt our day-to-day lives.
RSVP to John Moore – email@example.com
Get your RSVP in ASAP to be sure there’ll be room.
It’s the last week of Preparedness Month and we have two related notes today:
RED CROSS LESSONS: That trailer is parked by Hope Lutheran Church right now because of what’s happening inside: With the help of the West Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs, local churches that participate in the Westside Interfaith Network are learning from the Red Cross about “how a faith-based organization would set up a temporary shelter for local people while the bigger, official response to a big disaster gets organized.” While the Red Cross’s mission is to help, it’s a supporting role, and in case of disaster, churches and other community organizations will be on the front lines first.
DISASTER RELIEF BIKE TRIALS: When Seattle Summer Parkways gets going on Alki tomorrow at 11 am, that also will mark the start of the Disaster Relief Bicycle Trials. If an earthquake (among other things) strikes, roads might be impassable to larger vehicles, but bicycle riders can go where cars can’t, and so the Seattle DRT is geared toward giving riders some practice for the possibility of having to help someday. Four West Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs will be “activated” for the occasion, and the ride also will include activities such as “Zombie Apocalypse Survival.” (Who can resist that?) Ride if you can; cheer them on if you can’t, 11 am at the main stage area of SSP near 61st SW/Alki.
September is Preparedness Month. This year brings more than the standard – and important! – reminders about disaster kits – it also brings the 2016 Seattle Disaster Relief Trials, starting from Alki Beach during the Seattle Summer Parkways event three weeks from today. Here’s the official announcement about what organizers describe as “a disaster drill in the form of a cargo-bike ride, simulating a Day 3 supply run”:
Seattle’s Disaster Relief Trials (DRT) will take place Sunday, September 25th, 2016 and will run from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM, starting from 61st Ave SW and Alki Ave SW in West Seattle. This year, the Seattle DRT will be held in partnership with Seattle Summer Parkways, Seattle Emergency Hubs, and the Seattle Auxiliary Communication Service (ACS).
Imagine the impact a nearby 8.5 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami would have on Seattle. Buildings collapsed, roads in shambles, people displaced, services disconnected. Without roads that are passable to vehicles, how do we provide essential services to injured and scared residents?
The DRT is a fun emergency-preparedness event that mobilizes bicyclists to carry cargo representing emergency supplies to and from six checkpoints, Community and Communication Hubs and other significant community gathering locations throughout West Seattle and White Center.
Each of the six hubs will include a cargo activity for the Responder class, and an emergency response mini-workshop for the Resilient, Family, and Citizen classes, as well as for the public. The emergency response activities will be provided by partnering organizations.
The goal is to provide a realistic practice of how bicyclists can be a vital link in providing supplies to citizens, in cases where the roads are impassable to larger vehicles, within the context of educating the public and having a great time!
Tickets are now available. We are offering different ticket types indicating your level of participation (Responder, Resilient, Family, Citizen, etc.). Tickets range from $0 – $20. Most tickets include a free stylish 2016 DRT shirt you can wear year round!
Want to help out with the event? We are seeking volunteers to help with registration, setup, running checkpoints, and teardown. Volunteers will receive free snacks and water and a stylish 2016 DRT shirt, and will have the opportunity to learn valuable preparedness skills!
If you would like more information about this topic, please email us at info@SeattleDRT.org. If you’d like to volunteer to help with this event, please email us at volunteerDRT@gmail.com.
No helicopters at this earthquake drill – it was all about the people. Neighborhood Emergency Communication Hubs around the city “activated” today, including the one behind Neighborhood House’s High Point Center.
We previewed this one earlier in the week – “citizen actors” were sought to help, and organizers tell us more than 70 volunteers showed up. But it wasn’t the stereotypical drill where volunteers were splayed out on the grass hamming it up, pretending to be hurt – in this case, they were asked to show up with a specific request for information or help, and work their way through the hub setup. In some cases, they were assessed for the skills they could offer:
That’s Lynda, who has first-aid skills and multiple language skills – both of which would be useful in case of catastrophe. And of course, there was a radio tent too:
The High Point hub was in communication with other hubs around the city, as would happen in a real disaster. The hubs are meant to be places where neighbors can help neighbors, knowing that if something major happened, the official rescuers would be stretched too thin to come to the rescue immediately, if ever.
So be sure to know where your nearest hub is (see the map above) – just in case. And if there’s not one near you, consider volunteering to organize one – West Seattle’s newest hub, by Hope Lutheran in The Junction, had an info-table today just to start raising awareness:
If you went to the overlook at Jack Block Park expecting to see nonstop activity during today’s aerial-rescue drill, you would have been disappointed. But every so often, helicopters did take off – during the span of about half an hour, we saw the military chopper above, as well as the Airlift Northwest medevac helicopter below:
On the otherwise mostly empty expanse of T-5 – popular with drills since it’s closed as a cargo terminal while the port prepares to expand its facilities and capabilities – land-based emergency vehicles were in view, including a Seattle Police Mobile Precinct larger than the van-style one based at the Southwest Precinct.
Seattle Fire led today’s drill and tweeted a photo of the big show (which came after we had already left to check out the Myers/Olson car flip) – rescuers hoisted on a platform:
Air platform used to transport rescuers including search dogs during regional drill at Terminal 5. pic.twitter.com/yzNwq0wjfC
— Seattle Fire Dept (@SeattleFire) June 11, 2016
(You might also have seen some of the aerial activity in southeast West Seattle – while covering the aforementioned crash, we spotted the same military helicopter over SFD’s Joint Training Facility.) This was part of Cascadia Rising, the weeklong regional drill – years in the planning – practicing scenarios based on the 9.0 megaquake that scientists think will hit someday.
This morning we also stopped by the grass-roots Emergency Communication Hubs drill that happened citywide, including a West Seattle location, and that report’s coming up.
(WSB photo from November 2015, helicopters at Terminal 5 during drill)
Imagine a 9.0 earthquake so devastating that it impacts the entire Northwest Region. That is the basis for the Cascadia Rising earthquake exercise being held this week in multiple states. When a disaster of this magnitude strikes, a regional air response is necessary to face the challenges of saving lives over a large geographical area.
The Northwest Regional Aviation team will come together at the Port of Seattle Terminal 5 for a daylong series of helicopter drills that will utilize lifesaving skills necessary to meet the challenges of a regional disaster. In coordination with the Washington State Department of Emergency Management, a unified response with aviation resources from 10 different city, county and state jurisdictions including 6 aircraft will demonstrate the technical aspects of search and rescue, moving resources and transporting injured patients.
Observe landing and take-off procedures as multiple helicopters hoist and transport equipment and personnel in and out of the heliport base at Terminal 5. The community is invited to watch the helicopter rescue activities from the view platform located at Jack Block Park.
Agencies participating in the training:
Bainbridge Island Fire Department
King County Sheriff’s Office
Port of Seattle
Seattle Fire Department
Seattle Police Department
Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office
Tacoma Fire Department
Washington National Guard
The drill is scheduled to start around 10 am and continue until about 2, according to SFD’s media advisory.
Just found out tonight that Terminal 5 will host yet another drill with helicopters on Saturday – this time, as part of the Cascadia Rising megaquake drill that’s been happening at a variety of locations around the region. Susan Stoltzfus with the Port of Seattle told us about it at tonight’s T-5 Draft Environmental Impact Report public hearing (report to come). She says multiple agencies are participating with simulations including a collapsed building, and it’s scheduled between 10 am and 3 pm. If you’re interested in taking a look, she says you’ll be able to view it from the Jack Block Park overlook. In the meantime, if you notice the helicopters and/or other unusual activity at T-5 on Saturday, don’t fret, it’s only a drill.
P.S. As we’ve already reported, a much-more low-key – but no less vital – drill will be happening in High Point, and your direct participation is welcome – here’s where, when, and how.
You might have heard about the big regional earthquake-preparedness drill that’s under way in a variety of places all week. Here’s how you can help: Join your West Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs volunteers this Saturday! Above is the map of all “hubs” – explained here – in West Seattle, but just one needs volunteer help – read on!
Come see what your community is doing to be prepared in the event of a major disaster. Join us in a simulated earthquake neighborhood response drill of the Seattle Emergency Communications Hubs.
We would love for you to stop by as a “put me to work” volunteer or as a Citizen Actor (to give us tasks to perform, you will draw a short script from our bowl of misfortunes). This will help test how we accomplish our mission and to help you learn how you can be ready to help in the event of a disaster!
Participating Hub drill location in West Seattle:
Neighborhood House High Point Center
6400 Sylvan Way SW
9:30 am – 11:30 am
Also on Saturday, separate from the simulation, but ready to meet neighbors and talk preparedness:
New Hub location holding an open-house booth:
Hope Lutheran Church
4456 42nd Ave SW
9:00 am – noon
New Hub! Info table only
For more information about how to be prepared and what the hubs do, visit us at West Seattle Be Prepared.