By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Another Northwest earthquake swarm – this time off the Oregon coast – is the latest reminder that we live in a seismically active area.
You hear a lot about preparedness, but it should go beyond the “have some food and water stashed away” stage, the District 1 Community Network heard at this month’s meeting, which featured two other topics – “street sinks” and the local Salvation Army Center.
First – the spotlight presentation was from Cindi Barker, an Upper Morgan Junction resident long active with the Emergency Communication Hubs, a volunteer organization that works to ensure neighborhoods have gathering places in case of catastrophe (find your nearest one here) and to raise awareness of other preparedness issues.
Her key points were based on modeling that the city’s been doing, showing potential scenarios for how different types of major earthquakes might affect neighborhoods. This information wasn’t intended to scare people, Barker stressed, but to underscore the need for particular types of preparation. The city also has presented a series of webinars this year, focused on different parts of its response plans, all linked from the Office of Emergency Management‘s YouTube channel – look for the “Seattle’s Earthquake Response” videos. This one will help you understand what kind of planning the city has done and what its priorities will be in the aftermath of a big quake:
No matter what kind of big quake hits – as you’ve probably heard – you can’t count on fast help; you have to plan on some period of self-sufficiency.
Barker said city data can be used to understand how West Seattle would be affected by different types of major earthquakes. There are three main possibilities – a Cascadia subduction-zone quake offshore,, a shallow crustal-fault quake beneath us, or a deep underground quake, which is what the 2001 Nisqually earthquake was. They could all be major, but the worst-case scenario directly affecting our area the most would be the shallow-crustal fault type. That would do the most damage on the peninsula.
Besides damage modeling, the most important component of the city’s data is demographics – particularly age, to help everyone understand that our neighborhoods are home to thousands of the most vulnerable people – seniors, children, low-income families. An overlay showed that the scenario quake would damage a sizable number of buildings in neighborhoods that are home to a sizable number of those who are most vulnerable.
You need to know who’s in your neighborhood, who will need care, and who can help with that care – plus, will they be ready to help? “You’ve got to be able to help everyone in the community,” Barker stressed. So here’s how to be prepared for that:
The Big One may never happen – but this level of readiness can at least give you more peace of mind, a precious thing these days.l
Also at the D1CN meeting:
SEATTLE STREET SINKS: Reps from the Clean Hands Collective visited to explain that they’re looking for organizations to host these hand-washing stations around the city. They’re not like the Honey Bucket-type portable sinks that have been placed in connection with portable toilets. Instead, these are accompanied by small “raingardens” that filter the graywater.” As explained online, “The sinks are made from off-the-shelf parts that connect to a hose bib on public or private property. Water from the sink drains to a trough filled with soil and water loving plants.” They’ve already installed one at El Centro de la Raza on Beacon Hill. If you’re interested in hosting one, here’s how to contact the Clean Hands Collective.
SALVATION ARMY: The newest leader of the Salvation Army Center in South Delridge spent a few minutes introducing himself and talking about ways he hopes the center can be a community asset. Captain Hector Acosta said he came here after five years in Los Angeles and it’s been hard to make community connections because of the pandemic. But he’s originally from Washington state, so this is a homecoming of sorts. He said the center offers many services – a drop-in senior center, mobile food pantry, weekly hot meals at 5 pm, an after-school program. The latter could serve many more kids if they had enough staff, he said. And when in-person meetings resume, he said, the center will be available for community organizations to use for those. In the meantime, the Salvation Army’s charitable mission continues – he said bellringing is under way, and an upcoming regional distribution of holiday items already has nearly a thousand families signed up. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-767-3150 ext. 455.
NEXT MEETING: D1CN usually meets first Wednesdays, 7 pm, online, so watch for an announcement about January 5th. All from District 1 (West Seattle and South Park) are welcome to participate.