GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY
March 6, 2014
THREE YEARS SINCE THE JAPANESE EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI
Tuesday, March 11th will mark three years since the world witnessed the unimaginable horror and tragedy of the earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan. Are we better off today? Has the U.S. used the event to learn, plan and initiate changes along all coastal areas for such an event impacting the U.S.?
Although three years seems like a long time, in the world of government, it is fairly quick. Homeland Security and FEMA have adopted plans for such an event and are planning to exercise them in the Pacific Northwest in June of 2016, with Grays Harbor County being a central location. Washington State Emergency Management, the National Guard and the Department of Defense have been meeting to work on their plans for such an event. I have been invited along with other coastal emergency managers to read draft plans and participate as they are being developed. Our goal is to make the unachievable -achievable. They are listening and plans are changing.
Through community education, our citizens have learned a great deal from the event. In Grays Harbor County, the Ocosta School District has approved plans for a new Elementary School with Vertical Evacuation Engineering built into the school. This will allow the school to withstand the impact of tsunami while providing a safe refuge for all students, faculty and employees of the school district. This will be the only building in the U.S. with that capability.
Although government is working to enhance their abilities to respond to such an event, are citizens preparing for the inevitable?
A Citizen Expectation Survey conducted by Grays Harbor County Emergency Management along with Andrew Inocencio who just graduated from Western Washington University, uncovered many issues which will confound safety, response and mitigation of the Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake and the following Tsunami waves.
Many people are not familiar with their site specific issues for such an event. Only half of all citizens have a family emergency plan. This will quickly become problematic during any event where families are separated from one another. Of those who have plans, many do not include information on specific meeting areas, ways to communicate or how and where to evacuate. This is an indication they are not sure what to include in a plan and lead them to believe they are more prepared than they truly are.
Questions arise whether it is from a lack of disaster and emergency education or citizen apathy or the feeling their family may be safe from specific incidents. All citizens should seek as much information from their local jurisdiction and from Grays Harbor County Emergency Management on any and all emergency and disaster situations which may impact their family. Only through education will you have the best and most current information to be able to make the necessary choices you need for the safety of your family.
The following link provides insight into Japan three years since the earthquake and tsunami.
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AHAB Sirens and Emergency Notification Availability for Grays Harbor County Residents
Grays Harbor County Emergency Management is very active during all severe weather and disaster events and exercises. During our monitoring of The Great Shakeout Exercise, some extremely prominent misconceptions, rumor and just plain bad information began circulating within the social media networks. To alleviate these issues, Grays Harbor County Emergency Management wishes to present the following information.
1) There are numerous way citizens can become notified and receive information on severe weather or emergency/disaster events. AHAB Sirens, All Hazard ALERT Weather Radios, the Grays Harbor County Emergency Notification System, AM/FM Radio, The Grays Harbor County Emergency Website and the Grays Harbor County Emergency Management Twitter and Facebook pages. See below for information.
a) Be aware the message television sends may NOT pertain to your site specific location!
b) Local newspapers do present pertinent information although the information will not be the most up to date at the time of reading.
c) The internet presents another situation where the information you receive may not be relevant for your site specific location. Beware of the information you obtain and please check with a bonafide resource such as the numerous sources Grays Harbor Emergency Management provides.
d) DO NOT call 911 for information. They will be overwhelmed with life threatening, emergency situations and will have no time to answer questions about the event.
2) The All Hazard Alert Broadcast (AHAB) Sirens are designed to be heard within a 1 mile radius and OUTDOORS only. Be extremely aware that wind and rain can distort the voice message and also greatly reduce the distance you can hear the siren during severe weather. For notification if you are INDOORS, you will need to purchase an All Hazard Alert Weather Radio. The radios are available at various locations and range between $25.00 - $50.00. Be sure the radio is an ALERT radio. Many purchase radios that need to be tuned and turned on. Those radios WILL NOT provide the necessary protection and alerting your family needs. You’ll need an All Hazard ALERT Weather Radio that activates on its own.
3) Misinformation causes confusion and rumor. If you are not sure about anything related to Emergency Management, severe weather or disaster preparation, please contact Grays Harbor County Emergency Management at: GHCDEM@co.grays-harbor.wa.us or call (360) 249-3911.
4) AM/FM radio as well as your All Hazard Alert Weather Radio WILL provide you with pertinent information provided by Grays Harbor County Emergency Management for all Grays Harbor County residents.
5) Please like follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
6) If you are interested in signing up for the Grays Harbor Emergency Notification System which will provide you with a phone call, text message and an e-mail in the event of severe weather or an emergency or disaster situation, please follow the link and we will add you to our service. http://www.co.grays-harbor.wa.us/info/DEM/EMailTWS.asp
7) Remember Grays Harbor County Emergency Management has a website at:
8) Emergency Preparedness is your responsibility. Local jurisdictions do not have the capability to assist you in the event of a disaster event. Please plan today for what will impact you in the future. Please call Grays Harbor County Emergency Management at (360) 249-3911 or e-mail us at: GHCDEM@co.grays-harbor.wa.us for assistance in planning or to answer any further questions you may have.
Tornadoes and water spouts in Western Washington? How about in Westport?
Take a look at Scott Sistek’s Weather Blog!
Sneaker Wave Video - Ocean Shores WA
Register for the Grays Harbor County Notification System
If you need assistance in obtaining the specific information you seek, please e-mail Grays Harbor County Emergency Management at: firstname.lastname@example.org
or call (360)-249-3911 x 1575