Preparedness – West Seattle Blog… West Seattle news, 24/7 Wed, 15 Aug 2018 14:00:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 West Seattle weekend scene: Emergency Communication Hubs’ drill Sun, 29 Apr 2018 00:58:47 +0000 (First two photos courtesy Tamsen Spengler)

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:

(This photo and next two, courtesy of Karen Berge)

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.”

Share This

]]> 2
SATURDAY: Citywide disaster drill including three West Seattle hubs, and you can help! Fri, 27 Apr 2018 03:40:38 +0000 (WSB photo from hub drill last July)

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.

Exercise Scenario

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.

Share This

BETTER READY THAN SORRY: Disaster drill April 28 to focus on power-outage scenario. You can help! Sat, 07 Apr 2018 04:40:11 +0000

(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.

Join us in a simulated full city power outage field exercise of the Seattle Emergency Communications Hubs and the Seattle Auxiliary Communication Service

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

P.S. To sign up in advance as a volunteer/participant, or if you have a question, e-mail

Share This

]]> 1
WEST SEATTLE POWER OUTAGE: Riverview boom, and a reminder Sat, 24 Feb 2018 23:42:43 +0000 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!

Share This

]]> 2
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.

Share This

]]> 3
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

Share This

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):

Share This

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!

Share This

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.

Share This

]]> 1
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.

Share This

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).

Share This

]]> 17
@ 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.

Share This

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.

Share This

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.)

Share This

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.

Share This