Off the Press

April 19, 2011

You really should prepare for disaster

I’m sitting at my kitchen table, far from Japan and its earthquakes, tsunamis and radiation that have claimed the lives of thousands of people, and far away from the American South and its tornadoes that have killed more than 40 people in just a few days.

Kathleen R. Merrill Press Editor

But such things don’t happen here in the Pacific Northwest, right? Well, yes — until they happen to you. Those people never thought they would see the things they’re seeing now, or live through the things they just experienced.

More than a decade ago, a tornado ripped through the part of Tennessee where I lived and ran a newspaper. The winds ripped the roof straight off my house, turned it over and dropped it pretty as you please in my backyard.

If that wasn’t scary and damaging enough, torrential rain poured into my then roofless house, ruining prized possessions. Still, I occasionally find something with black mold on it — mold that started back then. It’s not as bad as in the first years after the tornado, when I would have to throw out numerous items every Christmas when I unpacked my decorations. Or I would open a box of something during a move to find more molded things that hadn’t gotten dried or cleaned properly.

Read more

Consider a seismic retrofit as earthquake insurance

April 19, 2011

Strengthening a residence through a home earthquake retrofit is as simple as ABC: anchor, brace and connect.

Most homes built in the past 30 years or so do not need a retrofit to hold steady in earthquakes, but older homes may need some foundation tune-ups. If the foundation is not secured to the rest of the structure, major damage can result from the ground shaking.

The earthquake in Japan — plus major temblors in New Zealand, Chile and Haiti in the past year — has renewed the focus on seismic safety at home.

“When the earth starts shaking sideways, the foundation moves with the earth,” Sound Seismic co-owner Leif Jackson said. “This big, massive object is not going to immediately move with the foundation. It’s going to kind of lag behind, and it’s going to lag behind when that foundation oscillates back in the opposite direction. So, the house and the foundation get out of synch, and it can get jolted off of the foundation.”

Read more

Earthquake inspires students to delve into Japanese culture

April 12, 2011

Skyline High School freshmen Renee Chaffin (left), Irene Pak and Crystal Liang stand beneath a Shinto gate crafted by Chaffin for the Japan ‘teach-in’ their social studies class hosted. By Laura Geggel

The day after Japan’s March 11 earthquake, Skyline High School students sat in a concerned, stunned silence watching footage from the magnitude-9 quake and tsunami that had wrecked the country’s northern coast.

“As a group they immediately sensed that they were witnessing devastating history,” social studies teacher Cari Crane said.

Read more

State: Washington milk is safe, despite radiation concerns

April 12, 2011

State agriculture and health officials said Washington-produced milk is safe, despite low levels of radiation detected March 25 in a milk sample from Spokane.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency is conducting radiological testing for Washington-produced milk. EPA results announced March 30 confirmed the presence of miniscule levels of radioactive iodine-131.

Sampling results from Tacoma and Spokane taken during the same week — and posted online April 4 by the EPA — did not detect any radioactive elements in milk, even in trace amounts.

“EPA monitoring confirms that Washington milk is safe to drink,” Dan Newhouse, state Department of Agriculture director, said in a statement. “These results raise no concerns for food safety or public health. Milk and other dairy products remain a healthy choice in your diet.”

Read more

April is opportunity to prepare for emergencies

April 11, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. April 11, 2011

Eastside Fire & Rescue is reminding residents to plan for emergencies during April, Disaster Preparedness Month.

The magnitude-9 earthquake in Japan last month — plus major earthquakes in Chile and Haiti last year — reminds residents about the seismic risk in the Pacific Northwest.

EFR emergency planners said Disaster Preparedness Month is a good opportunity for residents to practice and learn what to do in at home, school or workplaces.

Planners said knowing what to do in emergencies, developing a family plan and making sure everyone understands the plan is critical to staying safe in a disaster.

Read more

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.

Read more

Japan disaster hits home for Issaquah family

April 5, 2011

When Kelli Dotson and her husband Robert sat down to watch a pre-recorded show, the evening started out like any other Friday night.

Rachelle Dotson

Their Issaquah house was quiet, only one of their five children still living at home. At about 10 p.m., Kelli’s phone showed a text message from her eldest son, urging her to turn on the news.

“It’s about Rachelle,” Kelli told her husband.

In horror, the two watched as a tsunami swept over the Sendai airport after a massive earthquake hit the northeastern part of Japan. They had reason for concern. Their daughter Rachelle was serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 12 miles north of Sendai.

“She had just been transferred from Koriyama,” recalled her mother Kelli, who had received weekly emails from their daughter.

The week before, Rachelle had sent her parents a one-liner that said she had a new companion from Tahiti, didn’t know her new address or phone number and wouldn’t have email access.

Read more

State: Washington-produced milk is safe, despite radiation concerns

April 5, 2011

NEW — 11 a.m. April 5, 2011

State agriculture and health officials said Washington-produced milk is safe, despite low levels of radiation detected March 25 in a milk sample from Spokane.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency is conducting radiological testing for Washington-produced milk. EPA results announced March 30 confirmed the presence of miniscule levels of radioactive iodine -131.

Sampling results from Tacoma and Spokane taken during the same week — and posted Monday by the EPA — did not detect any radioactive elements in milk, even in trace amounts.

“EPA monitoring confirms that Washington milk is safe to drink,” Dan Newhouse, state Department of Agriculture director, said in a statement Tuesday. “These results raise no concerns for food safety or public health. Milk and other dairy products remain a healthy choice in your diet.”

Read more

Legendary rocker offers hope for Japan

March 29, 2011

Japan ‘embraced The Ventures like no other’

The walls almost groan beneath a Fort Knox of framed gold records.

Inside a house on the Sammamish Plateau, amid a museum-quality collection of rock ‘n’ roll history, Don Wilson offered encouragement to people in catastrophe-stricken Japan.

Wilson, a cofounder of the seminal band The Ventures and a Sammamish resident, reached out March 23 to people impacted by the earthquake, tsunami and still-unfolding nuclear crisis in the island nation.

Don Wilson, of The Ventures (left), prepares to deliver a message of sympathy to be broadcast in Japan as videographers Holland Hume and Justin Peterson prepare to record several takes. By Greg Farrar

The Ventures, unlike perhaps any foreign musicians before, enraptured Japan in the early 1960s and have remained popular in the decades since.

Because the band is revered in Japan, NHK, the largest public-TV network on the island nation, reached out to Wilson to offer a message of encouragement to millions of viewers.

So, a crew set up cameras and lights amid the rock ‘n’ roll history, to capture a brief message from the unofficial ambassador to Japan.

Read more

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.

Read more

« Previous PageNext Page »