Preparedness – West Seattle Blog… West Seattle news, 24/7 Wed, 21 Feb 2018 21:58:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 In case of big earthquake or other disaster, here’s where to go in West Seattle Tue, 23 Jan 2018 20:42:43 +0000

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.

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NEW YEAR, NEW SKILL: ‘Suddenly in Command’ boating class Sun, 31 Dec 2017 02:00:39 +0000 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

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NEW YEAR, NEW SKILL: West Seattle Amateur Radio Club offering 2018 ham classes Fri, 29 Dec 2017 00:39:00 +0000 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):

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VIDEO: Quake-readiness lessons for students in Great Washington ShakeOut Thu, 19 Oct 2017 23:27:46 +0000 Disaster preparedness is for all ages. Genesee Hill Elementary students provided an example of that during this morning’s Great Washington ShakeOut earthquake drill:

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!

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WEST SEATTLE WEATHER: Sandbags show up Tue, 17 Oct 2017 02:17:27 +0000

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.

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BE READY: Seattle City Light reminds us that storm season is nearing Tue, 10 Oct 2017 04:02:44 +0000 (WSB photos. Above, closeup look at the fuse that can blow to ‘isolate damage’)

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.

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CONGRATULATIONS! West Seattle’s Cindi Barker gets national honor as Community Preparedness Champion Wed, 27 Sep 2017 23:07:15 +0000

(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).

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@ West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network: From police to preparedness Wed, 27 Sep 2017 08:02:28 +0000 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:

POLICE UPDATES: Now that call volumes are down post-summer, Operations Lt. Ron Smith said, there should be more time for proactive policing/patrolling. The precinct area (West Seattle/South Park) is experiencing 25 percent fewer car prowls than at this time last year, though. Auto thefts were up for a while in the Alki area until one incident resulted in multiple arrests of juvenile suspects, he said. … Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis acknowledged the summer was “active” but said many “significant arrests” were made. While West Seattle “has always been a property-crime mecca,” police are using what tools they can to detect for example stolen cars – automatic license-plate recognition devices have been helpful. Auto thieves and burglars “are often one and the same,” he noted. When they detect trends, they work to get the information out. And as always, he lauded Block Watches for obtaining and distributing information and helping police keep ahead of trends. They’ve made “a number of car-prowl arrests” and when they do, detectives do their best to get more information on what the suspects have been up to – the more crimes they’re linked to, the more time they might serve, and “when that happens, our crime statistics tank.” (In a good way.)

Current hotspots – Westwood Village for shoplifting, and police have a “sizable campaign” going there (and in Roxhill Park across the street) to try to catch more criminals. There’s been an ongoing effort to keep an eye out for known offenders with warrants and they hope to be cultivating a mindset among criminals that the heat might be on a little hotter in West Seattle than elsewhere. He reiterated that police want to know about everything so that they can keep track of trends.

There was also a discussion of keeping track of criminal cases and letting judges know your concerns about suspects/defendants, and bringing up cases when judges are running for re-election. (Later, an election-related question – one attendee wondered if precinct commanders such as Davis were being approached by the mayoral candidates; he said no but expected they were in dialogue with those higher-up in the department, and he added that he would like to have 20, 25 more officers. Or, “if I had 100 more officers in this precinct … we’re forced to do whatever we can with the staffing that we have, but more is always better.”)

In a year-to-year comparison, crime that’s tracked in this area is down six percent. Car prowls year to year are down by about 300, Capt. Davis said.

He also touched briefly on chronic issues including nuisance houses, mentioning that some are under scrutiny with the help of the City Attorney’s Office precinct liaison and Community Police Team. In some cases, they have to work several layers down to get to the home’s owner – in some cases, a bank, if it was foreclosed on – to get permission to kick out squatters with the help of trespass notices.

Asked about this year’s homicides, briefly, at the end of his appearance, Davis could only say that none were random.

The other big topic:

EMERGENCY/DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Berge opened by stressing that if something happens, your nearest Emergency Communication Hub is the place to go – and asked Block Watch captains to make sure their neighbors all know about them.

In the event of an emergency, each hub needs to have some people who can “step up and go down there and help.” West Seattle Be Prepared does NOT have a huge core of volunteers – some hubs have just one person accountable – so more involvement now is vital, “so our hubs grow in strength. … In an emergency like what happened recently in Puerto Rico, in Houston, in Florida, something that could just totally devastate our area …” And that could go for many types of disasters – earthquake, hazmat spills, and more.

While there may be many gathering places in the city in case of catastrophe – Berge mentioned that the city had declared P-Patches would be involved – the West Seattle Be Prepared Emergency Communication Hubs have something special, for which there’s regular training: Radio communication, which is likely to work even if other regular forms of communication are down.

One attendee noted a gap between hubs and wondered how to suggest a new location: “Do you need someone who steps up?” In a word, Berge replied – yes, noting that there’s been attrition since the early organization. “What we need is at least one person who keeps the hub go kit, the radio …”

In case of catastrophe, another attendee reminded everyone, don’t use your phone for voice communication – use texts, which use less bandwidth.

Back to preparedness – Berge said she couldn’t instruct people on exactly what to store or what to pack but had some general advice: “What I tell people is maybe have several different kits – a go kit that’s maybe a backpack with a couple bottles of water, vs. the stuff you might want to have supplied near an exit, in a garage or an outbuilding, like your water for several weeks.”

Also think about medications, important papers, “whatever you wouldn’t want to be without” if you have to run out quickly. She also suggested “things that are going to keep you from injuring yourself as you try to help other people” – bug repellent, hands-free flashlights, respirator masks, a hard hat …

And boots under your bed, said an attendee, because you might have to escape through broken glass.

But again – start evangelizing preparedness, for yourself, for your neighbors. “As a neighborhood, talk about preparedness – talk about ways (you would) approach the food and water and what as a neighborhood you have, from everyone’s homes, so nothing goes bad” in case of catastrophe. “Some of the things you may want to figure out as a neighborhood is who has generators, who has tools, who has skills …” nurses, for example – to know what resources are available, rather than having to figure it out if and when disaster strikes. Also think about what you would do if something happens while you’re at work.

One attendee mentioned items that could be worth obtaining such as a filter you could use with an outdoor faucet or your hot-water heater.

The WSBP website is laden with lots of info you can use to plan – check out pages like this when you have time.

Also at the meeting:

COFFEE WITH A COP: The announcement we published earlier Tuesday night was shared to the WSBWCN attendees by Jennifer Burbridge, Southwest Precinct crime-prevention coordinator.

MAILING LIST: Burbridge also wants to make sure all local Block Watch captains are on a mailing list she’s keeping – if you’re not sure whether you’re on it, e-mail her at She can also help startup Block Watch groups, too, and is happy to answer other crime-prevention questions – same e-mail address.

The West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network meets at the Southwest Precinct at 6:30 pm on fourth Tuesdays most months. Watch its website for updates between meetings.

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TUESDAY: Crime, safety, preparedness @ West Seattle Block Watch Captains’ Network Tue, 26 Sep 2017 02:16:47 +0000 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.

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PREPAREDNESS: Free, one-of-a-kind regional, accessible class for neighbor-to-neighbor emergency-response skills Tue, 29 Aug 2017 21:48:33 +0000 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.

Again, it’s free, but registration is required, and spaces are limited – go here. (Even more details are available via this fact-sheet flyer.)

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GETTING READY: Emergency Communication Hubs’ latest drill Mon, 31 Jul 2017 03:52:21 +0000 (WSB photos from Saturday morning. Above, EC Hughes hub)

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.

(Above, West Seattle Junction hub)

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.

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Are you ready? Emergency Communication Hubs earthquake-aftermath drill Saturday – and you can help Wed, 26 Jul 2017 02:13:22 +0000 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.

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HAPPENING NOW: See and hear what amateur-radio operators are up to as Field Day continues until 11 am Sunday Sun, 25 Jun 2017 00:00:12 +0000

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:

Lots more info here.

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PUGET SOUND EARTHQUAKE: Did you feel this one early today? Thu, 11 May 2017 15:46:33 +0000 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.

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.

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Live or work in The Junction? New Emergency Communication Hub ‘opens’ this Sunday Thu, 20 Oct 2016 18:16:57 +0000 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 (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.

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