The City Council and my Regional Development and Sustainability Committee will conduct a review of the City’s emergency preparedness, with special attention to lessons learned from the recent earthquakes in Chile, New Zealand, and Japan. Over the next few months, City staff and guest engineers, professors and scientists will brief Councilmembers on what was learned from those earthquakes and what has been done here in Seattle to respond to this information. Our goal is to ensure that we are continually improving our readiness for these kinds of emergencies. We will conclude this process with a prioritized work plan that focuses our resources and attention on those measures that will assure the best possible response to and recovery from what is certain to be a defining moment in our City’s history. The experiences we have witnessed in the past year from earthquakes in Chile, New Zealand, and Japan have come at great human, environmental, and economic cost. It is our obligation to learn the key lessons from these events and apply those lessons to our own readiness here in Seattle – another spot on the Pacific Ring of Fire. We will ask questions such as:
- What can we count on in terms of assistance from the newly adopted Intrastate Mutual Aid legislation, state-to-state Emergency Management Assistance Compact, and the federal government?
- Are our waterfronts prepared for water hazards such as a seiche, liquefaction, and/or landslide?
- What is our capability to shelter large numbers of people – facilities, staff, feeding, accommodating functional needs? How do we move these people to transitional and then recovered housing?
- How well are our Departments prepared for critical roles –Fire and Emergency Medical, DPD doing building assessments, SPU maintaining and/or restoring the water system, SCL recovering electricity?
- What have we learned especially from New Zealand about the adequacy of our building codes?
- How can we enhance our neighborhood emergency preparedness network system to cover greater areas of the City?
- How can we resolve the issues of unreinforced masonry buildings and other hazards that can be mitigated?
- Can we create a Readiness and Safety Center to further public awareness and training on how to respond to disasters?
- What plans do we have for Regional Catastrophic Planning, and how will we practice them?