West Seattle, Washington
Thanks to Mark Jaroslaw for pointing out that today marked exactly 70 years since Puget Sound’s biggest earthquake of the 20th century. The 7.1-magnitude South Sound quake at 11:55 am April 13, 1949, led to the deaths of eight people. Two were students – at schools in Tacoma in Castle Rock. Here in West Seattle, damage at a school was among the most notable in the city, mentioned with other nearby damage in the HistoryLink.org summary of the quake: “… At Lafayette Elementary School in West Seattle, the large brick gable over the main entrance collapsed. Three bridges crossing the Duwamish River were jammed shut due to shifting earth. …” The school damage – to a building that was predecessor to the current Lafayette – is featured in this post by historian Paul Dorpat. But because – like the 2001 quake – it was centered in the South Sound, that’s where it hit hardest; The Olympian published a story today featuring quake survivors’ memories.
SO, ARE YOU READY? The anniversary is another reminder that you need to be prepared for the next big quake. If you need some inspiration, next month you’ll find it at the West Seattle Bee Festival – an Urban Survival Skills Fair presented by West Seattle Be Prepared is part of the plan for the festival, 10 am-2 pm on Saturday, May 18th, at High Point Commons Park.
If you were in this area 18 years ago, right now you were coping with the aftermath of the Nisqually earthquake, which hit at 10:54 am on February 28, 2001, with a magnitude of 6.8. Someday, the experts say, something even bigger will hit. It’s the natural disaster you most need to prepare for, and you are lucky to have neighbors who are dedicated to helping. To mark the anniversary, they’re sharing the video (by local videographer Mark Jaroslaw) from two of the keynote presentations at a full-house preparedness event in West Seattle back in November:
Journalist Sandi Doughton and preparedness Dave Nichols were just two of the presenters; we covered the entire event and published this report afterward. As our headline noted, the most important preparedness plan is the one for your home, your family, your neighborhood – especially in the early aftermath, even the professional responders will be overwhelmed, and you need to be ready to be self-reliant. Lots more resources, by the way, are available at West Seattle Be Prepared.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
On the long to-do lists that usurp most days for most people, it’s easy to let the maybes slide beneath the certainties.
Thanksgiving? Definitely a week and a half away.
Catastrophic earthquake? Could happen tomorrow … or not in your lifetime, or your children’s lifetimes, or their children’s lifetimes.
Still, about 200 people filled the auditorium at Hiawatha Community Center a week ago to start their weekend getting practical advice for getting ready for the latter.
It was a power-packed few hours, going beyond the standard advice you might have tuned out despite best intentions.
The longtime local volunteers of West Seattle Be Prepared and the West Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs were elated by the turnout. It was the second of two nearly identical weekend sessions they had organized, the first one a month earlier at High Point Community Center. They’re hoping to do it again in 2019. Before our toplines: Highlights from videographer Mark Jaroslaw:
The event provided more than preparedness advice – it gave a bigger view, too, as well as a behind-the-scenes window into how public servants are, and are not, getting ready:
Taking cover under classroom desks was only part of the plan as Explorer West Middle School (WSB sponsor) participated in today’s Great Washington ShakeOut earthquake drill. No matter how ready you are, an earthquake or natural disaster can lead to injuries, so EWMS practiced dealing with those too:
Preparedness means having supplies on hand (this includes suggestions):
And it means everyone’s involved. Here’s EW head of school Evan Hundley:
There was a communications component too – this text was sent to EWMS parents:
P.S. As mentioned in our daily highlights list and calendar, Explorer West has the first of three open houses for prospective families tonight – 6:30-8 pm, 10015 28th SW.
It was a one-shop preparedness stop at High Point Community Center on Sunday afternoon – the first of two big educational events local volunteers led by West Seattle Be Prepared are presenting this fall. Thanks to Karen Berge for sharing photos and notes! And yes, it wasn’t all deadly serious – above, Brian Nozynski from the West Seattle Amateur Radio Club shared a “MacGyver Moment” of improvisation with Cindi Barker of WSBP. (What he’s wearing is a “giant contractor’s bag” you can buy and carry everywhere – it can be used as clothing, sleeping cover, and more.) Informational displays were of course part of the event:
KING TV journalist Glenn Farley moderated; speakers were from a variety of organizations and areas of expertise, including Harold Tobin of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, who Karen reports “talked about the science of earthquakes – the different types, the frequency and potential magnitudes and the damage that might occur. He also talked about the new early warning system and what some of the benefits of that technology are. Even if it provides only 5 to 10 seconds of warning, it would allow time for citizens to drop-cover-hold and for critical operations to be paused or stopped.” Local Scouts helped present disaster-skills training:
Their presentations included disaster kits, water purification, and disaster sanitation. A recurrent theme: Emergency responders will be overwhelmed, so you have to be prepared to care for yourself and your loved ones – advice included having 2 weeks of provisions, and have disaster kits in your home, workplace, and vehicle. Before the three-hour-long event concluded, attendees were urged to get familiar with their nearest Emergency Communication Hubs and the volunteer captains for them.
P.S. Though signups are already full for the next presentation in November, there are other things you can do if you didn’t register in time – request SNAP training for your group, block, building, etc.; go play Disaster Trivia this Wednesday; browse the WSBP website and learn lots more about being ready.
Things are going to get disastrous during the next Trivia Night at Talarico’s in The Junction. The announcement explains:
Wednesday, October 10th is “Disaster Trivia Night” at Talarico’s Pizzeria, 4718 California Ave SW. Starting at 8:30 pm and going until about 10:15, you and your friends can test your knowledge about disaster preparedness and disaster movies.
In addition to the prizes awarded to the top finishers, West Seattle Be Prepared, our local preparedness group, will hold a raffle of disaster supplies as a fundraiser. See how much you know and at the same time you will help out a great organization. $2 to play, which becomes the prize money.
See how much you know, learn something you don’t, help out a great organization, and do it all with beer and pizza or pasta and wine (are those survival foods?)
It’s best to make a reservation at Talarico’s to ensure your team has a seat! 206-937-3463. Over 21 only. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Lots of reminders about this today but there still might be somebody who hasn’t heard about it, so we’ll join in too: An emergency test message will be sent to cell phones, TV, and radio tomorrow (Wednesday, October 3rd). From the official FEMA webpage explaining the test, which starts at 11:18 am our time:
The WEA test message will appear on consumers’ phones and read, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” Phones will display this national test using the header “Presidential Alert.” These nationwide alerts, established pursuant to the WARN Act of 2006, are meant for use in a national emergency and are the only type of alert that can be sent simultaneously nationwide by FEMA.
… Many members of the public will receive the WEA test message on their cell phones. Specifically, beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT, cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, WEA-compatible wireless phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA, should be capable of receiving the test message. Wireless phones should receive the message only once.
The same FEMA page has details about the TV/radio test set to start two minutes later (11:20 am our time).
That’s your video invitation to a free preparedness event unlike any other you’ve attended. 2-5 pm Sunday, October 7th, at High Point Community Center (repeated 9-noon November 3rd at Hiawatha Community Center), West Seattle Be Prepared and the Emergency Communication Hubs invite you to learn and talk about how to be ready for The Big One. This isn’t just somebody showing you how to put together a kit – though that kind of preparedness is part of it – the event will include:
*MC Glenn Farley, natural-disasters reporter from KING 5 News
*Opening keynotes by Dave Nichols, certified Emergency Manager and West Seattle resident speaking on community preparedness, and Northwest earthquake science (Harold Tobin, Director, Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, for October, Sandi Doughton, Seattle Times science reporter, for November)
*Hear about response plans from Seattle Police, Fire, Emergency Management, and King County Public Health.
*Skills training including utility shutoff, water purification, disaster sanitation, home retrofitting, even “MacGyver tips – what you can do with a Garbage Bag”
There’s still space but sign up ASAP – go here to do that.
(WSB photo from 2013: ShelterBox USA’s Dave Nichols at a local demo)
Summer’s not over yet – and the benefit barbecues continue tomorrow (Saturday) at West Seattle Thriftway (4201 SW Morgan; WSB sponsor). Tomorrow, it’s educational as well as tasty – here’s the announcement from beneficiary and spotlight nonprofit ShelterBox USA:
Saturday from 11:00 AM until 2 PM, Thriftway will be conducting a barbecue fundraiser for ShelterBox USA.
There are disasters around the world we never hear about; there is a special group of volunteer aid workers that drop their jobs and go there to provide Shelter, Warmth & Dignity.
ShelterBox is an international aid organization that is volunteer-led and often arrives on the ground at the scene of a disaster within 48-72 hours.
One of our own West Seattle residents, Dave Nichols, has spent the last 6 years responding to those disasters; to date he has deployed to 6 disasters, from The Philippines to Madagascar, working as part of a two-person team bringing shelter to those affected by disaster or conflict displacement. Dave is one of a small highly trained group of ShelterBox Volunteer Response Team (SRT) members (there are currently about 156 worldwide).
Dave will be on hand to answer questions at Thriftway from 11-2; stop by and say hi.
Since 2000, ShelterBox has provided shelter, warmth and dignity following more than 200 disasters in over 85 countries. ShelterBox instantly responds to earthquake, volcano, flood, hurricane, cyclone, tsunami or conflict by delivering boxes of aid. Each iconic green ShelterBox contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, stove, blankets and water filtration system, among other tools for survival.
Can’t make it to tomorrow’s barbecue? Individual tax-deductible donations to ShelterBox USA can be made at shelterboxusa.org.
If you live/work in the High Point area, the Neighborhood House center is where you’d go in case of catastrophe – it’s the local Emergency Communication Hub. And it was one of three West Seattle hubs “activated” by volunteers this morning for the drill we previewed earlier this week.
As announced, volunteers ran through a scenario in which not only was there a massive power outage, cellular communication was out too. That’s when point-to-point radio communication comes in handy – the next photo shows Shane Marr, longtime GMRS Net Control operator:
The message board is always key to a hub – it’s where resources and needs would be tracked:
Not sure where your nearest hub is? Go here to find it. And remember – it’s an all-volunteer effort – here are High Point’s new hub captains, Johnny Schmidt and Robert Landis:
Karen Berge adds, “One very cool aspect of today’s drill was that we had two observers who drove down from British Columbia to watch this field exercise. They said that they learned a lot from watching us, as they are in the early stages of setting up a hub there. Conversely, during our debrief after the exercise, we learned some useful things from them.”
From Pigeon Point to High Point to Fauntleroy, three local Emergency Communication Hubs will be participating in a drill this Saturday morning, 8:30-noon – to prepare for something everyone hopes will never happen. And you can help! We’ve mentioned it a few times before, and here’s the official announcement:
Imagine there is a major power blackout covering Seattle and the metro area. There is no cellular phone service. No one knows the cause of the outage or knows when power and cell service may be restored. Emergency generators at hospitals and other essential service providers can only last as long as there is fuel. How would the region communicate?
This is the scenario behind the “Power Out, No Bars” exercise that Seattle ham radio operators and designated emergency Hub volunteers throughout the City will be testing. The Seattle Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS), a volunteer organization operating under the auspices of the Seattle Office of Emergency Management, and the Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs, a grass-roots, neighborhood network of community members, will jointly conduct the citywide communications exercise.
The drill simulates the day after an unexplained failure of grid power and cellular service, with no updates on when either would be restored. Because the Hubs are the major residential and business resources for neighborhoods, situational awareness, resource coordination, and communications between the Hubs, ACS, and the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) are critical.
The key goals of the exercise are:
*Activate several neighborhood Communication Hubs and Seattle ACS, emphasizing reliable, efficient, accurate message management and documentation. Exercise participants will use voice as well as data communications via radio, throughout the city.
*Demonstrate, practice, and assess the ability to communicate up and down the various levels of the response structure, based on the Incident Command System (ICS), which spells out a hierarchical, yet flexible, means of managing emergency situations.
*Build strong working relationships among Emergency Communication Hub members and ACS members, through team problem solving and practice.
In an event such as the one this exercise portrays, the neighborhood Hubs would mobilize to assist with the immediate needs of residents, especially those who may need emergency services. The ACS would also have activated shortly after the scope of the outage was known, with sector sites around the city providing situation reports and helping coordinate emergency and logistical responses.
“In a citywide or regional event, people will need to go to neighborhood gathering places to find access to information and start matching resources and skills to what is needed” said Cindi Barker of West Seattle, one of Seattle’s Hub Captains.
“Power Out, No Bars is the latest in a series of emergency exercises that have helped our membership continually hone their skills and upgrade, deploy, and test their equipment,” said Mark Sheppard, founder and director of ACS. “This is critical to improving our ability to be more effective and be better prepared to face a real emergency or natural disaster.
Here are the West Seattle hubs participating:
*Pigeon Point Hub, 20th Ave SW & SW Genesee St
*High Point Hub at Neighborhood House, 6400 Sylvan Way SW
*Fauntleroy United Church of Christ Hub, 9140 California Ave SW
You are invited to stop by and observe, or participate, 9 am-noon Saturday. For more background info – West Seattle’s hubs are explained here; the citywide hubs here; you can find out more about Amateur Radio here.
(WSB file photo from past drill)
Early heads-up in case you can help – three weeks from tomorrow, neighborhood volunteers could use your help during another disaster drill. Here’s the announcement:
Imagine if all power and normal communications were down – what would you do?
Come see what your community is doing to be prepared.
April 28, 2018, 9:00 am – noon
Join us as a participant or a volunteer!
Emergency communication hubs – predetermined meeting places you would go for information in case of a catastrophic loss of regular communication – will be “activated” citywide for the drill, including three in West Seattle. Show up at one of them to be part of the April 28th drill:
• Fauntleroy United Church of Christ (9140 California SW)
• High Point Neighborhood House (6400 Sylvan Way SW)
• Pigeon Point (20th SW/SW Genesee)
Even if you can’t participate in or even observe this drill, check the West Seattle hubs map to learn the location nearest you, just in case:
You’ll find more West Seattle-specific preparedness information at westseattlebeprepared.org.
P.S. To sign up in advance as a volunteer/participant, or if you have a question, e-mail email@example.com.
3:42 PM: There’s a small Seattle City Light outage in Riverview right now after what a tipster texted us was a boom that they suspect involved a transformer. The SCL map notation attributes the outage to “equipment failure.” Meantime, we want to remind you that the forecast calls for things to get windy tonight and early tomorrow, possibly gusting up to 33 mph – no official alert, but there wasn’t one last Sunday either, when gusts took down trees and took out power, so you’d be wise to be ready just in case.
10:05 PM: Jen says in a comment that the power was restored around 9:15.
P.S. Forecasters are still predicting a windy night and early morning – keep everything charged!
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.