Emergency Communications HUB Drill Connects Victory Heights With City

On Saturday July 29th, the new Victory Heights emergency communications HUB did its first drill in conjunction with a city-wide event. Tables were set up and volunteers (including a local scout troupe) held different positions or played out various scenarios using scripts. Organized by Victory Heights Community Council President Ann Forrest, various staff were given color-coded caps so they could easily be identified: greeters, person reunions, information, medical, and information posting.  The only resource a HUB has is information but in an emergency situation that can mean a lot when it comes to finding out who has what resources or where the greatest need is.

Local ham radio operators were also set up to allow our HUB to communicate with others nearby in Lake City, Meadowbrook and Maple Leaf.  They could also receive messages from the city’s “central command” downtown that would broadcast general information messages every 30 minutes to update HUBs around the city.

Over two dozens people participated in the drill, a great turn-out for our neighborhood (by contrast, the central part of the city including the Central District and Beacon Hill doesn’t even have any HUBs). Drills will continue to be held in the coming months. They are fun to participate in and extremely useful training should that day come when we need an emergency communication HUB in case of a natural disaster.

Emergency Preparedness HUB News and More

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Victory Heights Community Council (read the complete minutes here) in addition to an election to vote in a new President and Vice-President (congrats to Ann Forrest and Monica Harris, respectively), there has been much movement on the plan to install an emergency preparedness HUB in Victory Heights Park. Originally the community council was going to apply for a matching grant from the city in order to buy and maintain the supplies for the HUB. The “matching” was done using volunteer hours in the community. However, the city’s Office of Emergency Management has decided they really want more HUBS in the city (“200 in 7 years,” or one within 1/2 mile of every resident in Seattle) and so they have made it much easier to obtain a grant and done away with the matching requirement. They are also offering to sell a $1500 “HUB-in-a-box” starter kit with nearly everything (except radios) to get going setting up a HUB.  The logical place to store it (and set up) is in Victory Heights Park, and the Parks Department has agreed to let us use the concrete pad next to the playground. We are still looking for ham radio enthusiasts in the neighborhood to help with our communication needs.

Speaking of the park, the planned playground renovation has been pushed back yet again, and construction now will start in Spring 2017 and take place during the summer. Designers were also persuaded to use wood chips under the equipment instead of “synthetic turf.”

And the Seattle Police Department’s 36-foot-long “mobile precinct” will be visiting Victory Heights next month! It will be stationed next to the park in time for our meeting on October 18th and the public (and kids) are welcome to get a tour.

Emergency Drill Prepares HUB Volunteers

Interior view of the emergency HUB storage container in Lake City.

Interior view of the emergency HUB storage container in Lake City.

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.

The radio room in the communications HUB.

The radio room in the communications HUB.

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!

Keith Dekker pretends to be a blind resident who needs shelter. On the left, Susan Causin posts the information.

Keith Dekker pretends to be a blind resident who needs shelter. On the left, Susan Causin posts the information.

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.

Community Council Hears From Sound Transit and Neighborhood Emergency Preparedness

Last night’s monthly meeting of the Victory Heights Community Council featured presentations from Sound Transit and about SNAP (Seattle Neighborhood Actively Prepared).

Read the complete minutes of the March meeting.

First up, Roger Iwata from Sound Transit told residents about the expansion of the Link Light Rail from Northgate up to Lynnwood that is expected to be finished around 2023 (two years after the Northgate station opens in 2021). The preferred corridor is along the I-5 right-of-way with various stops (to be determined) in North Seattle, Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace and then the Lynnwood Transit Center. A Draft Environmental Impact Statement will be issued in June and formal comments can be submitted.

Secondly, Sandy Motzer, Director of the Lake City Emergency Communication Hub, explained about the city’s SNAP program and how, as part of disaster preparedness, volunteer sites are being set up all around the city to relay emergency information via ham radio to and from city officials in case regular communications fail. Sandy is organizing one for northeast Seattle that will be based in the parking lot of the Fred Meyer in Lake City (the next closest ones to Victory Heights are the top of Maple Leaf or Hunter’s Tree Farm in Wedgwood). Plans are underway to organize here in Victory Heights so we will be aware of what resources are on hand should we need them (who has generators, who are doctors or nurses, ham radio operators, etc). Want to volunteer to help the HUB? Sandy would love to hear from you, e-mail her at sandymotzer@aol.com. There is a city-wide simulated emergency drill that will be conducted on May 11th.

In other news, Victory Heights might be getting a new traffic circle if the vote goes our way at next month’s North District Council meeting. Eileen Canola has been campaigning for one to be installed on 23rd Ave NE and NE 105th Street for several years and after much organizational work (and paperwork), the end is nearly in sight as the NDC prepares to distribute this year’s Street Funds from the city.

Plans are underfoot for the community council to host a party for the entire neighborhood in the park sometime this summer. Stay tuned as details are sorted out.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, April 16th at 7 PM in the pre-school in Victory Heights Park.

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Community Council Meeting March 19th

You are invited to attend the monthly Victory Heights Community Council meeting on Tuesday, March 19th at 7 PM at the Pre-school in Victory Heights Park.

The agenda will include two speakers, Roger Iwata with Sound Transit (Lynnwood Link light rail project, which will go from Northgate to Lynnwood) and Sandy Motzer (President of the HUB steering committee).

We’ll also get a recap of the town hall meeting with local state legislatures.

Everyone in the neighborhood is encouraged to attend, this is YOUR community council. (Bring a folding chair, the ones at the school are all child-sized).

Get added to the VHCC mailing list and receive notices directly in your inbox. Write to Vice President Sharon Haggerty to be put on the list.

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