Under grey threatening skies that later changed to sunshine, Emergency communication HUBS around Seattle participated in a simulated disaster drill Saturday morning, including the one in Lake City located in the Fred Meyer parking lot. For two hours, volunteers at the HUB, using neighborhood “actors,” practiced dealing with different emergency scenarios, and matching them up with provided resources.
By 9 AM, the Emergency Preparedness volunteers had set up pop-up tents, chairs, tables, dry-erase boards, and the radio room for relaying messages to a post downtown. Regular citizens were asked to come by and pull a slip of paper from a bowl that would describe the “emergency” they had, which then had to be dealt with by the staff.
A slip I picked said “I need a tow truck, my car just died. I pushed it to the side of the road, but it’s blocking a lane of traffic.” A volunteer then collected my information and posted it on the “Needs” section of the board. Later, Victory Heights Community Council President Ardith Lupton pulled a resource slip that said she had a truck with a tow rope that could be used to pull a vehicle. Mission accomplished!
The pretense of the drill on Saturday was an eruption of Mt. Rainier with resulting ash and lahar flows. During the last such event, lahars racing at speeds up to 60 mph reached as far north as Seattle! A vulcanologist I know told me, “And, while Mt. Rainer can produce a lahars if the eruption period last for a while, Rainer’s biggest threat to Seattle is ash and poisonous sulfur dioxide gas.” Swell. An article in yesterday’s Seattle Times about earthquakes also had this cheery tidbit,
The last megaquake on the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which runs 700 miles from Vancouver Island to Northern California, struck in the year 1700 and measured about magnitude 9. The odds of a repeat within the next 50 years are estimated at between 15 and 30 percent.
That’s pretty high odds. So be prepared. Have several days worth of water and food on hand and don’t expect immediate help from authorities in case of a disaster. More advice from the Seattle Office of Emergency Management is here.