Community Emergency Response Team training starts soon

February 12, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. Feb. 12, 2011

Issaquah residents can prepare for disasters at Community Emergency Response Team training in March.

CERT training is designed to prepare you to help residents during and after a catastrophe.

In the aftermath of a major earthquake or another disaster, emergency responders cannot help everyone immediately, so citizens rely on CERT training to protect and save neighbors.

The program typically includes eight weeks of classes from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Cost is $35. The session starts March 23. Participants can register through the Issaquah Citizen Corps Council.

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Can you hear me now?

February 8, 2011

Ham Radio Support Group member Ross Morris operates a ham radio in the mobile communication station. By Allison Int-Hout

An earthquake that brings people to their knees, a window-shattering explosion or flood waters surging through the city’s streets — before the trembling subsides or the water settles, life without telephone, Internet and electricity begins.

These disastrous events, which would lead most people to panic, are precisely the type of situations to which certain Issaquah community members are trained to respond.

Radioing out of a trailer doubling as a communications station in the Issaquah Police Department parking lot Jan. 29, the Issaquah Ham Radio Support Group played out a possible emergency scenario, testing their equipment during a Washington State Emergency Operations Center 5th Saturday Exercise.

“King County does a quarterly exercise where all the ham radio groups test to make sure they can talk across the state,” said Mike Crossley, the Issaquah Radio Amateur civil emergency service officer.

During the EOC exercise, the Issaquah Ham Radio Support Group communicated with other EOC locations throughout the state, including Camp Murray in Tacoma.

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Policies limit flood damage

January 4, 2011

City has spent more than a decade on flood projects

Issaquah Creek sloshed into neighborhoods and onto streets in early December, but city and county leaders credit land-use policies for helping to limit damage from flooding and landslides.

Because much of Issaquah is located in a floodplain, officials can only do so much to limit flooding. Though the risk remains, the city has made strides since the 1996 flood to upgrade creek buffers and shore up bridges and other infrastructure to withstand floods.

The process has included purchasing and removing homes in the floodplain, plus buying undeveloped floodplain lots for preservation. Read more

Issaquah flooding is possible during rain-soaked weekend

December 10, 2010

NEW — 10 a.m. Dec. 10, 2010

National Weather Service forecasters in Seattle issued a flood watch from Saturday afternoon to Monday afternoon for all Western Washington counties.

Forecasters expect a Pineapple Express system to dump 1 to 3 inches of rainfall in the lowlands and 3 to 8 inches in the mountains. (The phenomenon is so named because the moisture-laden system originates above the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.)

In addition, the snow level is predicted to climb to 8,000 feet during the same period. Snowmelt could accompany the rainfall and further swell creeks and rivers.

Forecasters said even small streams could overflow if the rain is heavy enough. Localized flooding is also a possibility.

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Issaquah braces for rain-soaked winter, creek floods

November 2, 2010

City completed projects to reduce risk since last flood

Mike Crossley (yellow vest) works in the HAM radio communication station during a Community Emergency Response Team flood drill. By Autumn Monahan

January rain turned placid Issaquah Creek into a debris-filled torrent in early 2009 — and emergency planners hope fresh memories of the flood prompt residents to prepare for the rain-soaked winter on the horizon.

Long before fall rain blanketed the area, Issaquah and King County emergency planners had prepared to respond to Issaquah Creek flooding.

Meteorologists predict La Niña conditions — colder-than-normal temperatures and greater-than-normal rain- and snowfall — in the months ahead. The combination has emergency planners concerned about rain-gorged Issaquah Creek and the potential for disaster.

“If you look at Issaquah Creek now, you think, ‘Oh, that’s a nice, pretty little creek.’ It can turn into a roaring monster pretty quick,” Bret Heath, city Public Works Operations and emergency management director, said last week.

The city has completed a series of flood-control projects in the 21 months since the most recent flood, including a high-profile floodplain restoration effort at Squak Valley Park North.

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City prepares for earthquake aftermath

October 12, 2010

A dry-erase board at the city Emergency Operations Center lists mock local road closures as city employees handle emergency scenarios during the two-day regional earthquake drill. By Greg Farrar

The disaster — a magnitude 6.7 earthquake — struck the region less than 48 hours earlier, during rush hour at 7:54 a.m. on a Tuesday.

The temblor triggered landslides on steep slopes, damaged Interstate 90 through Issaquah, snapped mains and compromised the drinking water supply, and toppled cargo cranes at the Port of Seattle — a critical link to deliver food and fuel to Issaquah and the region.

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Emergency response classes for Issaquah residents start soon

September 26, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Sept. 26, 2010

Learn how to prepare for a disaster as a member of a Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT.

Registration is open for CERT fall training. The program starts Thursday.

In the aftermath of a disaster, professional emergency services personnel cannot help everyone immediately, so citizens can rely on CERT training to assist family members and neighbors.

The program typically includes evening classes from 6:30-9:30 p.m. and runs eight-weeks. Cost is $35. Learn more, and register online, here.

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Citizens are encouraged to be ready for disaster, quake drill

April 6, 2010

On Wednesday, April 21, between 9:45 and 10 a.m., there will be a statewide earthquake drill. The “Drop, Cover and Hold” exercise is part of Washington state’s observation of Disaster Preparedness Month.

“I encourage all citizens to increase their knowledge and awareness of proper safety measures to follow before, during and after a disaster,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire in a press release.

One local group leading the way is the Issaquah Citizens Corps, a team made up of volunteers that promotes and provides emergency response education and training to the public free of charge. Offerings include the Map Your Neighborhood program, which provides free trainers to visit local neighborhoods.

At these “parties for preparedness,” neighbors can learn what to do in the critical first minutes following a disaster, identify skills and plan how to work together, set up a neighborhood meeting location and map out hazards including natural gas and propane outlets.

In addition, the corps also teams with the national Community Emergency Response Team organization to offer classes, including first aid training, basic firefighting, light search and rescue, and how to turn off utilities. Space is limited, so it’s best to sign up early.

Aside from classes and seminars, there are basic, simple things everyone easily can (and should) do to make sure they and their families are prepared, because when a disaster happens, it may not be possible for emergency responders to reach you right away.

People “need to be able to rely on their own skills and training” and “become self sufficient,” said Josie Williams, spokeswoman for Eastside Fire & Rescue. Read more

City reviews last flood, prepares for future crises

November 3, 2009

David Bramwell (left) shovels sand into a bag held by Bruce Wendt in a sandbagging practice run for CERT volunteers last week. Courtesy of Brenda Bramwell

David Bramwell (left) shovels sand into a bag held by Bruce Wendt in a sandbagging practice run for CERT volunteers last week. Courtesy of Brenda Bramwell

Floodwaters caused about $1 million worth of damage and left behind piles of debris and muck when Issaquah and Tibbetts creeks overflowed in January, but the disaster also readied emergency planners for the next flood.

The next time flood waters rise, volunteers will fan out across flood-prone neighborhoods and city officials will unleash a deluge of information about water levels, road closures and recovery efforts. Many of the procedures were tested during what officials characterized as a successful response to the major flood in mid-January.

But the next flood could occur as early as the next several weeks, and officials said work remains to be done to prepare Issaquah for another natural disaster. On Oct. 27, City Council members received a briefing about the response to the January flood and preparation efforts for the upcoming flood season.

City Emergency Management Coordinator Steve Campbell said readings from a pair of flood gauges did not correlate with the damage caused by floodwaters. A U.S. Geological Survey gauge downstream on Issaquah Creek appeared inaccurate, Campbell said. The gauge indicated about 2,500 cubic feet per second, Campbell said, but flood damage was similar to the 3,500 cubic feet per second estimate from the last major flood to hit Issaquah, in 1996. Read more

IPD shares games, hot dogs, safety tips

July 28, 2009

Issaquah Police officers will celebrate the 26th annual National Night Out event. While they’re cooking free hot dogs, they need residents to come eat them. Read more

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