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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Planning is focus for Disaster Preparedness Month

April 1, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. April 1, 2011

April is Disaster Preparedness Month — no fooling.

The month of activities focused on emergency preparedness includes a statewide earthquake drill and a conference to help regional and state planners gird for disasters.

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

The governor said state, city and county emergency management agencies also intend promote the value of preparedness across the Evergreen State during the monthlong observance.

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Remember: In earthquakes, drop, cover and hold is best bet

March 27, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. March 27, 2011

King County emergency planners set out to correct misinformation spreading on the Web about the best method to take cover in earthquakes.

The county Office of Emergency Management recommends the drop, cover and hold method as the safest bet.

“Unfortunately, emails have circulated recently, touting the ‘triangle of life’ technique, which incorrectly claims that people can use ‘voids’ or ‘empty spaces’ as a way to survive earthquakes,” Emergency Management Director Hillman Mitchell said in a release. “Simply put, the technique is not applicable for earthquake experiences in the United States.”

Information about the “triangle of life” started to circulation in email messages and on the Web in the aftermath of the Japan earthquake.

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Off the Press

March 22, 2011

Bill Gates and I finally have something in common. Neither one of us is at the top of Forbes magazine’s  list of the world’s richest people.

The fact that I’m not on the top of the list probably isn’t a huge surprise to most readers. But becoming a millionaire, or a billionaire, has never been one of my goals. Thus far, I’m doing a good job of avoiding it. However, there are Power Ball and Mega Millions lotteries coming up this week, so who knows? If I won a jackpot, after getting resuscitated, I would donate millions to charities.

Gates has a net worth of $56 billion. Yes, that ranked the chairman of Microsoft second on the list. Why? Gates has a generous spirit. His charitable contributions prevented him from being No. 1.

Bob Taylor        Press sports editor

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest charitable foundation in the world. In 2007, the couple contributed $28 billion to charities. The foundation contributes money to combat hunger, poverty, disease and illiteracy around the world. Gates has made huge donations to improve education in the United States, too.

I admire a person like Gates who is willing to give and give and give to make our world better.

Giving is something else that I have in common with Gates. Over the years, I have made contributions to many charities although not on the same scale. In recent times, however, my contributions haven’t been as frequent because of medical expenditures. My pockets are not quite as deep as they once were because of my battle with cancer.

Fortunately, my son David has taken over the role of being the family philanthropist. He has a very generous spirit, making donations to a variety of charities each month.

David is quite a success story. He has overcome a physical disability. He graduated from the University of Washington cum laude and later earned a master’s degree. He has a steady job with a good company. No father could be more proud. I’m especially proud of his giving spirit. David, like his dad, has no ambitions to become wealthy, either.

For many people, this is the giving time of the year. There is, after all, “the infernal revenue service” where some of us will again make a donation to Uncle Sam.

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Donate to Japan disaster relief at Pickering Barn sale

March 17, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. March 17, 2011

Nina Hawley and Allison Stephens plan to use a weekend consignment sale in Issaquah to collect donations for relief efforts in disaster-plagued Japan.

Shoppers at the Just Between Friends sale at the Pickering Barn can purchase $1 raffle tickets for a $50 Just Between Friends gift certificate. Organizers pledged to donate proceeds from the raffle sales, and portions of admission fees, to the American Red Cross.

Hawley, Stephens and other local mothers organize Just Between Friends maternity and children’s clothing consignment sales.

The sale runs Friday through Sunday at the historic barn, 1730 10th Ave. N.W. The sale is open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to noon Sunday.

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King County health agency addresses radiation concerns

March 16, 2011

NEW — 9 a.m. March 16, 2011

Experts at the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the state Department of Health do not expect significant levels of radioactivity in Washington or any health risk from the crisis at earthquake- and tsunami-damaged nuclear reactors in Japan.

Federal and state agencies continue to monitor radiation levels in the air and rain water as a precaution.

Public Health – Seattle & King County has posted frequently asked questions and responses about the nuclear crisis.

“We don’t know what will happen in Japan, but the state Department of Health has determined that even in the event of a significant release from the reactor, radiation should be diluted before reaching our state,” a statement from the agency reads.

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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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Japan earthquake hits Costco operations

March 15, 2011

Costco Wholesale executives said all but one warehouse in Japan has reopened after a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami, and the Issaquah-based company has accounted for all employees in Japan.

The warehouse in Tamasakai, a Tokyo location, is scheduled to remain closed for several months, pending further inspections and repairs. The company said two people died after a parking ramp collapsed at the warehouse.

Overall, Costco operates nine warehouses and a cross-docking facility, or depot, on the island nation.

Costco is also accepting donations to the Red Cross relief fund at cash registers in warehouses around the globe. The company also set up a donation link on the corporate website,

Costco operates 581 warehouses worldwide — 424 in the United States and Puerto Rico, 80 in Canada, 32 in Mexico, 22 in the United Kingdom, seven in Korea, six in Taiwan and one in Australia, plus the Japan outlets.

Costco employs 2,700 people in Issaquah, more than any other business. The company claims 57.4 million card-carrying members worldwide.

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Press Editorial

March 15, 2011

Earthquake in Japan is call to action here

The international effort to help the people of Japan deal with massive catastrophes is gaining ground. We have no doubt that Issaquah families will do what they can, with prayers, finances and volunteer efforts.

But there is something else every family here can do. Prepare.

The shock of the earthquake in Japan is way too close to what could happen here. If you had been ignoring the warnings to get ready for an emergency, now is the time to pay attention.

Yes, there is food and water to be stored, along with basic medical supplies, but there is more to be done.

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State: Radiation from Japan poses little risk to Washington

March 12, 2011

NEW — 6 p.m. March 12, 2011

The state Department of Health has not detected any elevated radiation readings in Washington as Japanese officials struggle to avert a meltdown at a damaged nuclear power plant.

The state agency is conducting ongoing air monitoring for radiation to determine if the incident has affected radiation levels.

The agency’s Radiation Protection staff expects no public health risk in Washington, and the monitoring is precautionary. If the situation changes in Washington, the Department of Health plans to inform the public.

State health officials are monitoring the events in Japan, and remain in contact with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Environmental Protection Agency.

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