Welcoming a new WSB sponsor: Southwest District Council

Whenever a new sponsor joins WSB, we publish a special welcome with information the sponsor wants to share. This time around, we’re welcoming the Southwest District Council, with a special emphasis on one of its work priorities — emergency preparedness. The SWDC’s next meeting is this Wednesday night, so it’s a good time to share more information about it. First, an explanation: The Southwest District is one of 13 neighborhood districts in the city, created by City Ordinance in 1988. (The rest of West Seattle is in the Delridge Neighborhoods District.) Each district has a district council made up of representatives from neighborhood/community councils, business groups, a variety of other community-based organizations, non-profit human-service organizations, or arts/cultural groups. District Councils advise the city on services, initiatives, and programs, such as the Neighborhood Street Fund/Cumulative Reserve Fund and Neighborhood Matching Fund Large Projects applications, and provides a forum to inform, discuss, and encourage civic engagement and community-building. The Southwest District Council meets 9 or 10 times a year on the first Wednesday, at 7 pm – usually January, February, March, April, May, June, July (when needed), September, October, and November – at the President’s Board Room at South Seattle Community College on Puget Ridge (map). The District Council is staffed by the Southwest Neighborhood District Coordinator, Stan Lock with the city Department of Neighborhoods. Read on to find out about SWDC participants – and how the emergency-preparedness push (with a new website) can make a difference for your family:

Currently the Southwest District Council includes 8 community councils:
*Admiral Neighborhood Association
*Alki Community Council
*Fairmount Community Association
*Fauntleroy Community Association
*Highland Park Action Committee
*Junction Neighborhood Organization
*Morgan Community Association
*Ocean View Community Beach Club

2 business organizations:
*West Seattle Chamber of Commerce
*West Seattle Junction Association

3 nonprofit organizations:
*Duwamish Tribal Services
*Senior Center of West Seattle
*Southwest Seattle Historical Society/Log House Museum

1 educational institution:
*South Seattle Community College

The SWDC sets priorities for issues to be addressed, and gets briefings related to those priorities, while also monitoring city-department action agendas for projects which might affect West Seattle.

In 2006, the SWDC set Emergency Preparedness as one of its work priorities. Since that time, it’s promoted individual preparedness through the city’s program, Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare (SNAP), conducted a West Seattle-wide Community Preparedness event in 2007, and supported the establishment of West Seattle Communications Hubs in 2008. The purpose of the West Seattle Communications Hubs is to provide the next level up of Emergency Preparedness from the individual or family.

These Communications Hubs are locations around West Seattle (see this map) 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 familiar locations in each neighborhood that are easy to find. 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 likely be used as shelters).

Why Designate Gathering Locations?

Neighborhood Emergency Communication Hubs address the immediate, post-disaster time frame, as in, when there may be no first responders to provide medical help or search and rescue, when telephone or computer communication may be down, when trained city staff may not be able to get to the affected neighborhoods to assist with communication and with search and rescue, and when homes are destroyed and each neighborhood is on its own to try to organize temporary shelters. This is when prepared citizens can act together to ensure public safety.

The purpose of these gathering places is to have a low-tech way of connecting neighbors if regular high-tech methods of communication are unavailable (for example, if electricity, cable, and phone are out, and therefore most televisions and computers are unusable).

During a serious emergency, it will be important that we share information within and between individual West Seattle neighborhoods. If West Seattle becomes isolated because of damage to roads/bridges, having central gathering places will aid people in sharing resources. Having pre-determined locations will allow each community to more quickly collect information regarding scope of damage, and will also help police and fire respond in a more organized manner with their limited resources.

There’s a new website to check out for more information on the Communication Hubs – westseattle.bepreparedseattle.info – bookmark it, and watch WSB for more news on how to be sure you and your neighbors are prepared, just in case!

(WSB welcomes the Southwest District Council to our sponsor lineup; one more reminder, the next meeting is 7 pm this Wednesday 3/4 at SSCC, and everyone’s invited.)

3 Replies to "Welcoming a new WSB sponsor: Southwest District Council"

  • Forest March 2, 2009 (11:50 pm)

    By no means am I belittling the emergency preparedness goals, but I don’t recall any of them kicking into gear during the heavy snows this winter. Granted, those snows were expected and not equal to a major emergency, but it would have been a good opportunity to demonstrate some of the disaster response preparations in real time.

  • WSB March 3, 2009 (12:04 am)

    Being a little bit on the inside with this one, after extensively covering the setup of those “community hubs” last summer, I would say the difference is that this is more like catastrophe preparedness than “just” disaster or emergency. And the ultimate goal isn’t for this to be topdown but for each neighborhood to be able to take care of itself – the neighborhood groups that are participating so far have each designated a point person who’s been helping work toward making this reality (and aside from one north end neighborhood, the city says West Seattle is WAY FAR ahead of the curve).
    Some of the folks involved in this have been doing radio tests, for example, to try to straighten out exactly what kind of radios will work for neighborhood=to=neighborhood relays (and where … Cindi was even up on the hilltop corner by our house at one point, and since it worked, we have loaner radios in our drawer) – and my archive search reminds me that one of those tests actually did happen toward the start of Snowpocalypse:
    Some of the neighborhood councils/associations jumped right on board with this, others have taken a little more time to establish exactly what they want to designate as a communications hub point and where … but it appears that a lot of progress has been made since last summer – TR

  • CB March 3, 2009 (7:47 pm)

    Hi Forest, yes, good comment. We did not open up the tables because the power stayed on and information was flowing over radio, TV and blog. I would hate to risk volunteer safety when not necessary (it was pretty dang cold). We do plan on holding drills, so that we practice on a regular basis. This year we plan on two, one will be a planned event in early summer(so we can coordinate with the Ham radio operator network) and the second will be one that is “called by nature”, which means that within a week of next fall’s first close call with an emergency situation (like the first heavy windstorm of the year) we’ll run a drill response. Keeps us in practice and checking that the batteries are fresh. We’re always looking for help as well, so let me know if you want to hook up with the closest location to you.

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