Off the Press

June 26, 2012

Preparing for worst-case scenario in Issaquah

Warren Kagarise
Press reporter

The earthquake existed only on paper and pixels for a brief span in early June, but the aftermath lingers.

Officials in local, regional, state and federal government participated in a drill, called the 2012 Evergreen Quake Exercise Series, to prepare for a devastating disaster in Issaquah and Western Washington.

The scenario for the exercise reads like the script for a disaster flick set in Issaquah.

The magnitude-6.7 earthquake rattled along the Seattle Fault at 8 a.m. Monday, June 4, as motorists surged on Interstate 90 and clogged city streets, en route to work and school.

The interstate turned impassable in a matter of seconds, as the exit to Front Street North and East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast crumbled.

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Hazardous conditions impacted response to January storms

March 6, 2012

The battle against the elements created dangerous conditions for city crews during a snowstorm and a rare ice storm in January, officials said in a recent update on response to the storms.

City crews scrambled to keep pace as the storms battered Issaquah and the region. Sometimes, limbs crashed onto city streets mere moments after a snowplow scraped snow and ice from the surface.

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Hazardous conditions impacted response to January storms

March 5, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. March 5, 2012

The battle against the elements created dangerous conditions for city crews during a snowstorm and a rare ice storm in January, officials said in a recent update on response to the storms.

City crews scrambled to keep pace as the storms battered Issaquah and the region. Sometimes, limbs crashed onto city streets mere moments after a snowplow scraped snow and ice from the surface.

“You’d clear a road, you’d come back down and you’d have to clear your way back out the same road,” Bret Heath, city Public Works Operations and emergency management director, said in a Feb. 28 briefing to the City Council. “Or you’d clear a road and you’d get a call from somebody else in the snowplow that said, ‘I thought you cleared this road.’ The answer is, well, we did. We were just there, but those trees were coming down so fast and frequent that it was impossible for awhile to stay on top of that.”

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Community Emergency Response Team training is available in Issaquah

February 28, 2012

Registration is open for Community Emergency Response Team training in Issaquah.

CERT training is designed to prepare residents to help family members and neighbors during a catastrophic disaster. The training is important because professional emergency services personnel cannot help everybody immediately, so citizens can use CERT training to protect and save lives.

CERT courses include disaster first aid training, disaster preparedness, basic firefighting, light search and rescue, and damage assessment skills. Participants can also learn how to turn off utilities and about the psychology of disaster response.

The training program is $35. Learn more, and register for the CERT course, at the Issaquah Citizen Corps Council website, www.issaquahcitizencorps.com/cert/cert-class. CERT training courses typically fill up quickly.

Community disaster response training is available in Issaquah

February 27, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Feb. 27, 2012

Registration is open for Community Emergency Response Team training in Issaquah.

CERT training is designed to prepare residents to help family members and neighbors during a catastrophic disaster. The training is important because professional emergency services personnel cannot help everybody immediately, so citizens can use CERT training to protect and save lives.

CERT courses include disaster first aid training, disaster preparedness, basic firefighting, light search and rescue, and damage assessment skills. Participants can also learn how to turn off utilities and the psychology behind a disaster.

The training program is $35. Learn more, and register for the CERT course, at the Issaquah Citizen Corps Council website.

Cleanup from storms could last for weeks in Issaquah

January 31, 2012

Terry Hillier, a Capella Drive Northwest resident, unloads branches from his station wagon Jan. 28 at Tibbetts Valley Park. By Greg Farrar

In the days after snow and ice hobbled Issaquah and the region, crews deployed across the city to collect sand from streets and downed trees from neighborhoods.

The recovery effort lurched into gear before snow and ice melted, but city residents and officials continue a daunting task to clean up from the recent storms and prepare for possible conditions in the months ahead.

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Off the Press

January 24, 2012

Another winter storm, and not so prepared

Debbie Berto Press publisher

Storm coming, so get prepared. Yeah, yeah, yeah. The weatherman never gets it right.

My husband Tom and I are certified members of a CERT — Citizen Emergency Response Team — here in Issaquah.

Sadly, we found ourselves not so prepared last week.

On Tuesday, Tom suggested he should charge the generator. He didn’t follow through, but it did start when the power/phone/Internet/cable went out Thursday morning.

But we only had two gallons of gas on hand to keep the generator going. Uh oh.

Tom siphoned some gas from the 4-wheeler but learned that our cars have anti-siphon devices. A call to the police department confirmed that The Grange did have gas and a generator to pump it, and about 40 cars in line for it. We decided to wait for city power to return.

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Issaquah residents urged to prepare amid King County flood watch

November 21, 2011

NEW — 5 p.m. Nov. 21, 2011

King County is under a flood watch as a precipitation-laden system barrels into Western Washington, and Issaquah residents should prepare for localized flooding as rain and wind pelt the area.

The flood watch is in effect until through late Wednesday night. Expect 2 to 4 inches of rainfall Monday night and Tuesday as the snow level rises to about 6,000 feet, and then another 1 to 3 inches Tuesday night and Wednesday as the snow level gradually dips to about 3,000 feet.

National Weather Service meteorologists in Seattle said any flooding related to the system is expected to be minor.

In addition, a wind advisory is in effect through noon Tuesday.

Bret Heath, city Public Works Operations and emergency management director, said leaves dislodged from trees by rain and wind could also clog storm drains and lead to flooding along city streets.

Issaquah Creek flooding is not expected to pose a major problem in the days ahead.

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King County reminds locals to prepare after Vancouver Island earthquake

September 9, 2011

NEW — 2:10 p.m. Sept. 9, 2011

Many King County and West Coast residents felt the earth tremble Friday afternoon as a magnitude-6.4 earthquake occurred off Vancouver Island.

The tremor struck at 12:41 p.m. at about 14 miles beneath the surface. The earthquake occurred about 170 miles west of Vancouver. Residents as far south as Seattle reported feeling the tremor.

King County Executive Dow Constantine used the earthquake as a reminder for local residents to prepare.

“Over the past 10 years, in concert with our regional partners, we have worked to build a whole-community approach to disaster planning, response and recovery,” he said in a statement. “Strong communities begin with each of us making a personal commitment to prepare, and then reaching out to our neighbors to build the networks that will be crucial when disaster strikes.”

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Citizens help others prepare for disasters

April 5, 2011

In Issaquah, a city of more than 30,000 people, only a handful of the population has completed the most rigorous training to respond to disasters.

The unfolding disaster in Japan — caused after a magnitude-9 earthquake rocked the island nation early last month — renewed attention on emergency preparedness on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

Even in a city as focused on preparedness as Issaquah, some gaps remain in the system.

The city has spearheaded lessons in Map Your Neighborhood — a program to coordinate disaster recovery on a block-by-block basis and identify special skills, such as medical training, among residents — for dozens of neighborhoods, although less then 300 people had completed the more rigorous program, Community Emergency Response Team training, by mid-March.

City and independent emergency planners said the numbers belie the effect of trained responders, especially as CERT members start to educate family members and neighbors in disaster preparedness and response.

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