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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City offers free pizza and emergency preparedness

November 23, 2010

The recent snowfall has renewed the focus on personal emergency preparedness.

City emergency planners encourage residents to prepare for disasters. In order to unite neighbors, hosts of Map Your Neighborhood trainings can receive free pizza for the gatherings. The city and the Issaquah Citizen Corps Council offer the program to help Issaquah neighborhoods prepare for disasters.

Neighbors — usually 15 to 25 households per area — hold a community gathering and learn the steps to take in the aftermath of a disaster.

Learn more about the program at the city website and the Issaquah Citizen Corps Council website.

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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Planning for worst-case scenario is business as usual for emergency director

November 2, 2010

King County faces risks from earthquakes, floods, terrorism, volcanic eruptions and more than a dozen other threats.

For Hillman Mitchell, director of the King County Office of Emergency Management, planning for a worst-case scenario is business as usual. The longtime emergency planner and Sammamish resident settled into the role Aug. 3 after a stint as the emergency management coordinator in Tukwila.

Mitchell served in the South King County city as the region braced for a destructive Green River flood exacerbated by the storm-damaged Howard Hanson Dam. Though the flood did not occur, the effort — and a candid assessment of potential damage across the region — earned Mitchell respect from leaders in other cities.

“Obviously, the Green River planning activity really brought together a lot of those collaborative and cooperative opportunities to look at how we respond, not just from a city’s perspective, but as we respond to disasters that don’t respect political boundaries,” he said.

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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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Leaders urge emergency preparedness

October 12, 2010

Issaquah Highlands residents gathered at Blakely Hall over pizza and soda late last month to prepare for a cataclysm.

The meeting, part of the statewide Map Your Neighborhood effort, brought together residents of a highlands neighborhood to prepare for the aftermath of a strong earthquake.

“What we found out with Katrina and the Kobe earthquake in Japan is that neighbors depend on neighbors,” Stuart Linscott, a highlands resident and Issaquah Citizen Corps Council board member, told the group.

Linscott and other corps members offer free education and training to organize Issaquah residents — neighborhood by neighborhood — for disasters.

Because only a handful of Eastside Fire & Rescue firefighters might be on duty in Issaquah at the time of a calamity, city and state officials encourage residents to take steps to prepare.

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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

Health & Safety Fair comes to Issaquah on March 13

February 16, 2010

Attendees at last year’s Health & Safety Fair ask questions about eye care and prescription lenses. File

The sixth annual Issaquah/Sammamish Health & Safety Fair will be from 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. March 13 at Pickering Barn. Vendor space for health care professionals is still available.

Free health screenings will be offered for blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, blood typing, posture and intra-oral cancer. Free chair massages and Chinese pulse diagnosis will also be available. Read more

Water closes streets, floods businesses and homes

January 8, 2009

UPDATED — 1:20 p.m. Jan. 8, 2009

Tibbetts and Issaquah creeks were cresting at 8 a.m. and water from them will be flowing through Issaquah over the next several hours. The forecast is calling for more rain.

Block your basement drains and evacuate your home if needed. Do not leave animals at home if you evacuate. The Seattle Humane Society has temporary shelter ready to provide safety and care for them. Call 641-0080.

Do not walk, wade or drive in flooded areas. Report storm water issues or request delivery of sand and bags by calling Public Works Operations at 837-3470. The city is accepting calls for sand and bags 24 hours a day during this flooding.

See a map of road closures here.

Sisters Jennifer Davies, Julianne Long and Mindy Heintz (from left) retrieve belongings Jan. 8 from the toppled guesthouse at the home of their parents, Jack and Karen Brooks, beside Issaquah Creek in the 23300 block of Southeast May Valley Road. — By Greg Farrar

Sisters Jennifer Davies, Julianne Long and Mindy Heintz (from left) retrieve belongings Jan. 8 from the toppled guesthouse at the home of their parents, Jack and Karen Brooks, beside Issaquah Creek in the 23300 block of Southeast May Valley Road. — By Greg Farrar

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