Emergency Preparedness Review Initiated by Council

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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?
The following is the planned schedule for this review: June 13, Full Council, 9:30 AM:  High level review of the City’s earthquake planning elements and a ten year report on progress since the Nisqually earthquake. June 21, Regional Development and Sustainability Committee (RDS), 2 PM:  Earthquake risk, hazard, and consequences; safety, response, and warning systems; immediate response strategies:  Fire, Seattle Public Utilities, Seattle City Light, Transportation, and Planning and Development July 18, Full Council, 9:30 AM:  What did we learn from Japan, New Zealand, Chile; what do we know about the Seattle Fault and Cascadia Subduction scenarios; how did buildings fare in Japan, New Zealand, and Chile, and how do their codes compare to ours; what would a similar earthquake do in Puget Sound and what more should we be doing August 2, RDS, 2 PM:  Effectiveness of seismic mitigation; Unreinforced Masonry retrofit study and ordinance; recovery planning August 16, RDS, 2 PM:  Shelter and interim housing; New York model for post disaster interim housing; preparing for and meeting the needs of seniors, children, ESL, low-income, culturally isolated, variably abled, and other vulnerable populations September 12, Full Council, 9:30 AM:  How do we define and achieve resiliency? September 20, RDS, 2 PM:  Personal, neighborhood, and district preparedness; community HUB update and expansion strategy; Disaster Readiness and Safety Center; Regional Catastrophic Planning; worst case scenarios; Evergreen 2012 regional earthquake exercise September 26, Full Council, 9:30 AM:  What we’ve learned; gaps and priorities for next steps.