In 2016, I decided it was time to invest my military service training and experience toward preparing my community for a disaster. I joined the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program. I was impressed with the thoroughness of the training that culminated in searching and evacuating live people from a three-story training tower filled with smoke, lights out, and no flashlights allowed. Wer moved from Bremerton to Clallam County in 2017. I’m now in my fourth year as Captain of Carlsborg CERT Team 3 in Clallam County.
Long ago I joined the Conway Volunteer Fire Department in Skagit County. Later, I was was trained and fought fires for Department of Interior in the Rocky Mountains, running a pumper truck on call.
Here, our Fire District 3 runs an intense academy, training up to 20 people each month. The threat of a Cascadia Quake and tsunami is present and requires all of us to prepare. We conducted a successful emergency radio communication exercise in 2021 with several hundred participants. In June 2022, we’ll conduct a four-day area-wide Cascadia response exercise involving all agencies. It will be challenging.
Having and maintaining the readiness of a well-trained CERT team in our neighborhoods is critical for recovery efforts in a disaster event. This is especially important on the Peninsula because our isolated location and proximity to high-risk disasters places us squarely in the YOYO zone – YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN. Most of you should enroll in the Map Your Neighborhood project offered by FEMA and your local fire district.
All Emergency Management planners agree, Peninsula residents should not apply the standard rule of emergency prep, to prepare for 7-10 days. Our reality on the Peninsula is, we need to prepare for at least 30 days of non-perishable food and water for each person in their home and survival equipment for expected disasters – earthquakes, tsunamis, wind storms, power outages, snow storms, flooding, wild fires.
Why 30 days and not the standard 7-10? Emergency resources need to reach the populations with the most density, first, because that is where the greatest need for rescue and recovery will be. Our Peninsula is isolated, comprised of small towns and a population is scattered among its rural and wilderness areas.
What about Aberdeen, Hoquiam, Port Angeles, Port Townsend and Sequim, wouldn't they qualify as densely populated? Yes and no. These cities are certainly the most populous on the Peninsula, but not at the level of Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, and the like.
Another factor is the Peninsula's geography. Consider the effect of a catastrophic event like the anticipated 9.0 Cascadia earthquake. We can expect damage to all our large and small bridges; and major landslides in the mountains and foot hills making our primary roads impassible. Much of the coastal areas will be hit hard by the ensuing tsunami and subduction. The Hood Canal Bridge will be subject to all of the above – shaking, sliding, subduction, tsunami – so it's not expected to withstand the onslaught.
Because of the widespread destruction of a Cascadia event, our region will depend on sources outside the earthquake zone. For example, it's likely a lot of our supplies would originate at the Naval Base in San Diego.
The earthquake would serve as the trigger point for the Navy to supply a ship, which could take a few days, and then 5-7 additional days to navigate its way to our regional ports, and several (3-5) more days to offload the supplies, and several more days to transport those supplies to where they are needed most, and several more days to distribute them to individual households.
All this assumes things go according to the plan, that our major deep-sea ports aren't totally destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami and are able to receive the Navy supply ship. Even in a best case scenario, these supplies might not get very far by land due to the quake-damaged roads and bridges making it impossible to cross creeks, rivers and inlets.
Peninsula landing strips would likely be impacted, so that would rule out airplanes. The best short-term option for getting supplies to our people would be helicopters, seaplanes and all-terrain vehicles. Even those options come with their share of challenges.
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PO Box 544, Carlsborg, WA 98324
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