Emergency Management

Pierce County/City of Tacoma open earthquake recovery center
Posted By Sheri Badger on Mar 9th, 2001 at 4:39 AM

Pierce County and City of Tacoma emergency management agencies have been working with the State and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to temporarily locate a disaster recovery center to offer one-on-one help for residents who suffered damage from last week’s earthquake. A Disaster Recovery Center will be open at the following location beginning Tuesday, March 13 until further notice:

Former Costco Building 3639 South Pine Tacoma

The center will offer help on hazard mitigation, disaster-related unemployment assistance, low-interest disaster information for homeowners, renters and businesses. Representatives from several agencies will be on site including FEMA, Small Business Association (SBA), Pierce County Emergency Management, City of Tacoma and the American Red Cross. “This center is an important resource for our citizens to be able to get one stop disaster information from FEMA, the Small Business Administration, and Pierce County government concerning the recent earthquake” said Emergency Management Director Steve Bailey. The Disaster Recovery Center will operate from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. It will be closed on Sundays.


Technology critical to Pierce County’s earthquake response
Posted By Sheri Badger on Mar 9th, 2001 at 3:05 AM

So there you are … under your desk, under a table or in a doorway, waiting for the shaking to stop. You’ve just experienced an earthquake and after checking on friends, co-workers and family members you’ll have an urgent need to find out what has happened. Nowadays, we don’t wait for the five o’clock news, we head directly to the Internet (that is if you tied your computer down like we’ve been suggesting for the past several years!). Noting this trend in other local disasters, most notably the crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261, Pierce County Emergency Management and Information Services began to develop a crisis communications website with the goal of getting accurate, consistent information out to the citizens of our county. Within half an hour of the earthquake, Pierce County’s Crisis Communications website was up and running. One week later, we had 3,800 unique visitors, totaling more than 300,000 hits. The website provided a variety of valuable and timely information including press releases (featuring damage updates and number of injuries), school closures, service disruptions, photos, employee information, interactive maps, etc. As the event moved from response to recovery, the site also featured on-line damage assessment forms and FEMA registration numbers. Local and nationwide media monitored our site for current information, as did thousands of citizens. One special feature of the Crisis Communications website is a comment/question section. Public information staff in the Emergency Operation Center monitored the feedback and responded throughout the event. As an example, we received one e-mail from a concerned woman in North Carolina who couldn’t reach her grandmother in Tacoma by phone. A personal call was made to assure her that Tacoma and Pierce County came through the quake quite well and only minor injuries were reported throughout the county. The woman nearly broke into tears of joy, so thrilled that someone called her personally to say things were going to be okay. That story repeated itself many times throughout the event – parents checking on local students, east coast relatives checking on their family members living in Pierce County, the list goes on. It is a unique twist – innovations in technology allowed us to make the most meaningful connection, a personal phone call. The website was critical in keeping our citizens informed, the media and our regional partners. The earthquake took place during business hours, which gave workers limited access to television and radio. Representatives from our cities and towns, school districts, and local businesses used the website to keep their workers informed throughout the event – where the damage was located, what roads were closed, and if their kids would be attending school the next day. Pierce County’s Crisis Communications website was critical, but only part of Pierce County’s overall response. Pierce County Director of Emergency Management Steve Bailey summed up the regional response, “Pierce County and our partners in the cities and towns have spent a great deal of time and effort planning and exercising for this kind of emergency. That effort paid off following the Feb. 28 earthquake. Public safety agencies throughout the county immediately activated plans and procedures, responding to emergencies and providing rapid damage assessment reports. This enabled us to quickly understand the size and scope of the disaster and provide necessary resources and support. The response and recovery effort has been very positive and all the government agencies involved deserve thanks for a job well done.”


Earthquake Rumors
Posted By Sheri Badger on Mar 6th, 2001 at 10:00 AM

Pierce County citizens have expressed some concern about “rumors” of an even larger earthquake occurring this week. Emergency Management Director Steve Bailey was asked to comment on these rumors and his response follows: There is no scientific way to predict earthquakes. Anyone who suggests a date or timeframe for such an event is not basing his or her prediction on science. The “Nisqually Earthquake” that occurred last Wednesday was a deep earthquake. Historically deep earthquakes have very limited aftershock activity. Shallow, fault earthquakes – more common in the Northwest – have many more aftershocks, literally in the hundreds. There have been two aftershocks (magnitudes 3.4 and 2.7) of this earthquake, both occurred last week. There has been no other aftershock activity. Since we cannot predict when the next earthquake will strike, this is an opportunity for our citizens to prepare their offices, homes, vehicles and families for the next disaster. Emergency preparedness information and training is available from the Department of Emergency Management at 798-7470.


Earthquake escapee in custody
Posted By Sheri Badger on Mar 6th, 2001 at 3:38 AM

Robert F. Kleest, who escaped custody the day of the earthquake, has been placed into custody by the U.S. Marshals Office. Kleest was found hiding out in the City of Boone, Colorado and was taken into custody without incident. Kleest is currently being held in the Pueblo Colorado Correctional Facility, pending extradition on charges of Escape 2, Rape 2, Rape of a child 2 and Rape of a child 1. Information was obtained through Crime Stoppers which was followed up by Detectives of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. That information was passed to the Marshals Office. Marshals placed Kleest into custody at approx. 11 a.m. Colorado time.


Earthquake Update
Posted By Sheri Badger on Mar 5th, 2001 at 12:19 PM

Pierce County emergency management officials are continuing to assess damages from the 6.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Western Washington Feb. 28. Damage Estimates Earthquake damage to public facilities totals an estimated $53 million in Pierce county. The figures could go higher as damage assessment activities continue during the coming week. The damage estimate include public building and facilities, roads and transportation and public utilities. Pierce County citizens and business owners who have suffered earthquake damage are asked to contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at the following numbers to begin the disaster aid application process:

1-800-462-9029 1-800-562-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired

If you believe earthquake damage has impacted the assessed value of your home, please contact the Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer’s office at 253-798-7145 for more information. Injuries Currently, 105 injuries have been reported in Pierce County, three of which are considered serious. Road and Bridge Status

  The lower portion of Kamus Dr. on Fox Island is closed due to road damage (cracks, 4″ drop in some spots) and slide issues.

  Chambers Creek Bridge closed from 64th St. W to the south side of the bridge in Steilacoom by the Abitibi plant.

  State Route 302 at milepost 4.7 to Wright Bliss Road, dropped two feet and is closed. This is in Mason County, but is near the Pierce County line. Evacuation Status

  Seven homes have been evacuated in Tacoma’s Salmon Beach area because of a landslide.

  Six homeowners were encouraged to voluntarily evacuate their homes at the base of Kamus Drive on Fox Island. The homes are not in danger, but the unstable Kamus Drive is the only access to the area.

  Two homes on Herron Island have been yellow-tagged due to slide potential.