Leaders urge emergency preparedness after Japan disaster

March 15, 2011

The unfolding disaster in Japan — unleashed after a magnitude-9 earthquake struck the island nation — has emergency planners in Issaquah reminding residents to prepare for earthquakes and other calamities.

“This tragedy overseas reminds us that our region is also at high risk from natural disasters,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “The time to prepare is before emergency strikes.”

The earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Japan in the afternoon March 11 (late March 10 in Washington and on the West Coast). The death toll could exceed 10,000 people.

The local group spearheading personal emergency preparedness is the Issaquah Citizen Corps Council, a nonprofit organization formed to prepare residents to respond to natural disasters and other emergencies.

“The real basic message is: Be prepared,” council President Alan Bramwell said.

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Comcast broadcasts Japan earthquake coverage to Issaquah customers

March 11, 2011

NEW — 4 p.m. March 11, 2011

Comcast digital customers in Issaquah and elsewhere in Western Washington — regardless of service level — can watch TV Japan on Channel 245 through March 18. The channel is broadcasting ongoing live news coverage from earthquake- and tsunami-stricken areas in Japan.

Officials directed people to check the American Red Cross Safe and Well Program or call the U.S. Department of State at 888-407-4747 or 202-647-5225 for information about relatives impacted by the earthquake and the tsunami.

People can donate to disaster relief efforts through the Red Cross Serving King & Kitsap Counties. People can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to help people affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific Ocean.

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CERT disaster-response training starts soon

March 1, 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-trained citizens 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 at the Issaquah Citizen Corps Council website, www.issaquahcitizencorps.com.

CERT courses include disaster first aid training, disaster preparedness, basic firefighting, light search and rescue and damage assessment, plus lessons in how to turn off utilities and psychology behind a disaster. CERT members also educate residents about Map Your Neighborhood, a program to coordinate disaster recovery on a block-by-block basis.

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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