Washington state’s autumn and winter seasons come with a large variety of weather conditions, and with them potential damages. The city of Mountlake Terrace, along with ten surrounding cities, including Edmonds and Lynnwood, are embracing the necessity of being more prepared for a variety of disasters.
Nationwide, the Department of Homeland Security has been distributing grants to build Emergency Operation Centers; the city of Mountlake Terrace was granted $250,000 out of the $14 million being distributed nationwide, for a state of the art facility. “The city is matching that grant with $100,000,” says Curt Brees, city public works director.
The facility will help officials prepare to deal with disasters everywhere from wind damage to icy conditions to freeway accidents, and will serve as a central command and control post for managing emergencies and to ensure that people have access to government emergency services. “This greatly enhances our ability to respond to disasters and localized and regional events,” said city manager John Caulfield.
Mountlake Terrace’s Emergency Operations Center will be constructed on city property on 6204 215th St. where the Public Works, Park Services, and Fleet Management are located. The building will be stocked with staff trained in communications equipment with 911 and state officials, supplies, and data necessary to provide services in a disaster.
The next steps in disaster preparedness in the city of Mountlake Terrace is to create a project group out of Brees, members of emergency services coordinating agency, Fire District 1 and the city’s police, IT, and facilities maintenance.
When a city is prepared that does not mean its citizens should not invest in individual preparations for disaster scenarios. The 3 Days 3 Ways campaign was started by King County and it has become a statewide awareness program, and it encourages all citizens of Washington state to be prepared for any disaster that may hit the northwest.
The first step for preparation is to have a plan set up; deciding on two rendezvous points: one outside the home, the other outside the neighborhood. Keeping family and friends’ contact information with you is also highly recommended. Two evacuation routes each from home, work, and school should be worked out in case the government requires evacuation.
Having a wrench near the natural gas shut off is important as well as knowing where the water main shut off is in your home. Preparing two signs, one that says OKAY, the other that says HELP, is also suggested in order to communicate with officials efficiently from inside the home. Also be sure to regularly check that your fire extinguishers are still functional.
Step two is to create a kit. The kit should contain enough water for three days with a minimum of one gallon per person per day; non-perishable food for three days, and a manual can opener. A radio (crank or battery operated), extra batteries, and a NOAA weather radio are also important.
Be sure to have a flashlight or lantern, and a whistle to signal for help. Extra clothes, sturdy shoes and blankets should be kept with the kit.
A first aid kit should contain ibuprofen, a thermometer, and sanitary wash or wipes. If special supplies are needed for medical conditions then those should also be included in the medical kit; including, but not limited to, prescription medications, eye glasses, and baby supplies. Important family documents should be put into a portable, waterproof container.
The third and final step is to get involved in the community. Getting trained in CPR, basic first aid, and CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) are a definite positive.
It would be helpful to visit the local fire department for information on preventing fires, and become informed about what’s going on in the city, region, and nation, depending on the impending disaster.