UWEM What's New Archive

Emergency Management News Archive

Below are news articles that have been archived by our staff. Some past articles may have been removed from the database.

Social Media: An Effective Means of Fostering Communication

April 11, 2014

Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government just completed a 24-page study about how the Boston Police Department was able to quickly utilize social media to warn, inform and collect information from the general public. You can read more about the study’s main points by following this link.

Social media is changing the way that communities and their first-responders interact with one another. Information is available from a variety of sources, and professionals must learn & sharpen skills to verify facts before being able to act upon them. UWEM recognizes this and has been introducing more social media elements to our training & exercise content as a result.

2014 UW Functional Exercise: Turbulent Tango!

March 11, 2014

With a new calendar year comes another chance for the UW Emergency Management staff and our volunteer responders to come together for training. On Thursday, March 27th, the Emergency Operations Center will host campus employees from all conceivable departments and offices on the Seattle campus. This is only an exercise and the university community will see no impacts or delays as a result of our annual training event, as the simulation will be contained within our office spaces. The Emergency Operations Center will be closed to observers during the exercise; please “pardon our preparation” as we practice like we play!

Help Us Help YOU!

February 24, 2014

University of Washington Emergency Management is currently in the process of updating our Hazard Identification and Vulnerability Assessment (HIVA). This involves gathering feedback from as many campus employees (staff & faculty alike) as possible about which potential hazards present the most risk to their organizations, and how those impacts would be manifested during and shortly after a disaster.

Please follow the link to complete the survey for your organization. The results will help us tailor future support to the UW community (~70k strong on the Seattle campus!) and will be shared when this update is completed.

Did You Feel That? Minor Quake Near UW Tacoma

February 04, 2014

Shortly after noon local time, on Monday February 3rd, reports of a small earthquake began to come in to the U.S. Geological Survey and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network; the magnitude was confirmed as 3.0 with a depth nearly 27 miles below the surface.

The epicenter was just northeast of Commencement Bay in Tacoma’s Browns Point area. While this quake did not produce any damage reports so far, it is a good reminder of how active the earth is in western Washington. This particular location is just east of the Tacoma Fault Zone too, raising concerns about additional seismic activity in the near-future. Stay tuned to the PNSN Seismo Blog for more information about our current earthquake activity and news.

Being Prepared for Natural Disasters

January 28, 2014

The University of Colorado has a bimonthly newsletter that they produce to focus on news and advancements in the field of natural disaster response. Natural Hazards Observer is free to the public, and there is an option to receive hard-copies of the publication for a nominal fee.

January’s edition is available now and has articles on several topics of interest to the UWEM community: Improving preparedness and advances in tsunami warning capability. Follow the link to read more!

CrossBorder 2014: Coming In Loud & Clear!

January 14, 2014

Just this past weekend, the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, as well as the Yukon Territory, took part in a bilateral communications exercise with the United States. On our side of the event, Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California all participated as well. CrossBorder 2014 was designed to identify the radio communication channels between major regional hospitals and their local government Emergency Operations Centers (EOC).

Follow the link to the Washington Emergency Management Division to read more about the project and the different stakeholders involved. With over 100 years of study and innovation, radio is still viewed as a very resilient means of communication before, during and after significant disasters occur!

Snow, Snow, Let Me Go!

January 10, 2014

Sometimes, Winter Weather affects traveling due to traffic jams and occasional road closures. While not very common within Seattle, our abundance of sites for winter sports & recreation in the Cascades keeps traffic steady in the mountain passes.

Our friends in the City of Denver Office of Emergency Management have some great tips to help drivers stay safe if the weather causes them to become trapped in the snow. “Take Winter By Storm” and be careful in Stevens and Snoqualmie Passes this winter!

UWEM Strategic Plan Draft Public Review

December 27, 2013

The 2014-2019 UWEM Strategic Plan draft is now available for public review. Please email any comments to disaster@uw.edu

All I Want For Christmas is A New Sound Transit Station!

December 16, 2013

Beginning today, December 16th, the section of Brooklyn Ave NE between 43rd and 45th will be closed off to traffic as Sound Transit begins to work on the U-District Station of the existing Link Light Rail expansion. Project information can be found at the Sound Transit website here.

The biggest changes in the local environment for employees and visitors to the UW Tower will be: 1. The noise; there is unfortunately little that can be done to abate this. If you have noise sensitivities already, wearing of some personal protective equipment (PPE) may be a way to reduce a lot of the noise pollution when entering and exiting the building. 2. New traveling paths; the street entrance off Brooklyn to the Tower courtyard will be closed during construction. Please use the south access gate on 43rd Street (between Brooklyn and 12th Street, near the loading dock) to enter the courtyard or use the northern entrance of the *UW Tower** lobby, near the bike racks. The changes to building access/exit areas will be in effect for the next several years, which will also change the Fire Evacuation routes. Stay aware of your work environment in order to stay safe while construction is in progress!

Winter is Right around the Corner....

December 10, 2013

.. and the UW Seattle campus is ready. The Grounds Management Division of Facilities Services has an updated Seasonal Snow Storm Response website that provides updated campus snow removal/plowing maps for UW roads and sidewalks as well as winter links for weather, bus schedules, etc… Make this your 1-STOP-SHOP for all things related to snow on campus this Winter!

Why Be Prepared? The Freezin's The Reason!

December 05, 2013

We’re entering the 4th day of temperatures near or below freezing, and now is the time to review local resources available to the UW community and Seattle residents. In case we see snow soon, know whether or not your main travel routes are considered “priority” for clearance, and whether or not your bus route’s schedule will be adjusted or possibly cancelled. Seattle Department of Transportation (S-DOT) has plenty of information and you can learn more about Winter Weather safety risks and tips to mitigate, prepare, respond & recover from the worst that Jack Frost sends our way.UW Seattle is a StormReady University and we encourage all students, staff, faculty and visitors to “Take Winter By Storm!”

Support the Rescue, not the Roadblock

November 14, 2013

The following letter to the editor is slated to appear in The Daily, a student-run newspaper produced at the University of Washington, in Friday, November 15th’s “Free Speech Friday” section.

The aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan has spread throughout Southeast Asia, most notably within the Philippines, and inspired charitable people to look for ways to contribute toward humanitarian aid & disaster relief efforts. There is a risk, however, of spending precious time & energy on well-intentioned efforts that may result in less-than-expected results within the disasterspace. As a child growing up in coastal South Carolina, I witnessed first-hand the force of nature that a hurricane (typhoon in the Pacific Ocean) can bring to even the best-prepared community; as the Senior Student Assistant in the University of Washington’s Emergency Management Office, I offer some tips that will help make sure that any relief efforts started by UW students are set up for success: 1. Cash is king. It is far easier for experienced, reputable aid organizations like Red Cross/Red Crescent, Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam to coordinate directly with local leaders on what specific community needs are, THEN purchase relief supplies to match that. Why spend time collecting blankets or shoes if displaced persons really need medical supplies or shelter materials? 2. The news will arrive slowly, and can change significantly between reports. Many locations will be without reliable electricity and water utilities due to storm damage, so updated reports will be published & broadcast erratically. This can frustrate news consumers, and be especially stressful for those with a direct connection to the traumatic event. 3. Relief workers are doing the best they can with the resources they currently have. Response alone may take days to weeks; recovery efforts can last months at a time. Getting involved and staying informed go a long way, but it is difficult to judge how slowly or quickly progress appears to be moving when observing from a distance. I was in first grade when Hurricane Hugo made landfall near my home back in 1989, disrupting everyday life for nearly 3 weeks. Full recovery took nearly half a year. It is a storm that residents of the coast near Charleston, SC still talk about 24 years later as a lesson in what can go wrong and what we can get right. We are only just now beginning to see the response efforts in the Philippines for Super Typhoon Haiyan, and it will take a much longer time than anyone finds acceptable before life returns to normal for those affected.

Tom Jenkins
Senior, Program on the Environment
Hurricane Hugo Survivor

Winter Is Coming!

October 22, 2013

The restart of full Federal agencies last week has brought the delayed Winter Weather Seminar that is annually delivered by National Weather Service - Seattle’s Ted Buehner, who serves as their Warning Coordination Meteorologist. The early indications of real-world data in the Pacific and correllations of historical climatology indicate Puget Sound is in for a “Neutral” winter once more, where the waters of the Pacific Ocean are neither warmer than average (El Niño) nor cooler than average (La Niña). Even so, the NWS interpretation of the data suggests a more active winter, with increased rainfall and snow potential.

What does this mean for Seattlites? Our season for High Wind events covers the 6-month period between October and March, with a shorter window to expect potential flood events between November and February. Our probability of snow in the Puget Sound Lowlands increases too, as does the likelihood that our heavier rain events occur in the form of notorious “Pineapple Express” patterns that reach back as far as Hawaii for moisture.

This all translates into risk of power outages, urban flooding, potential damage due to overnight freezing and winds posing a hazard to safety if loose debris is picked up off the ground. UW Seattle is StormReady, and you can be too if you take some time to build/replenish your emergency kits at home and within your office. Let’s “Take Winter By Storm!”

Great Shakeout Catalyst Survey

October 14, 2013

Please take a few minutes to fill out the Catalyst Survey to help us gather data around your participation in the Great Shakeout drill Thursday October 17th, 2013

The Great ShakeOut!

September 30, 2013

The Great ShakeOut (not to be confused with The Great Pumpkin) is quickly becoming a UW tradition every October. Come learn about earthquake risk and preparedness at our outreach booth tomorrow in the UW Tower Cafeteria between 10am-2pm.

We’re getting the word out before the state-wide earthquake drill on 10/17 @ 10:17. Huskies everywhere on the Seattle campus will be encouraged to “Drop, Cover & Hold” for 30 seconds to practice earthquake readiness wherever they happen to be. Come see us tomorrow to learn more!

UWEM Prepares for "Dawg Daze"

September 17, 2013

Next week, UWEM will have a booth ready to share information and educate the students, staff, faculty and visitors of UW Seattle about being prepared for emergencies. Look for us in Red Square between 9am-2pm, and stop by to spin the “Wheel of Misfortune!” In addition to providing educational materials to help individuals mitigate risk and prepare for disaster(s), we will also be able to let visitors to our booth know about future workshops, seminars and campus resources to help out Huskies in the event of an emergency. All are encouraged to stop by!

What Is A "StormReady University?"

August 19, 2013

Over Summer Quarter, the UW Emergency Management Office for UW Seattle campus completed a months-long process to be recognized as a StormReady University by the National Weather Service, becoming the first college/university in Washington state to be so recognized. The StormReady program is primarily aimed at helping towns, cities, counties and even tribal communities develop better capabilities to prepare for environmental challenges, monitor the weather and coordinate effectively with residents to stay safe when severe weather occurs. Since many sub-communities, such as institutes of higher education, state parks, military installations and airports/seaports may employ hundreds of people while serving thousands of others on a daily basis, they too are being encouraged to learn more about the StormReady program and a related program for coastal areas called TsunamiReady.

Since UW Seattle is in many ways “a city within a city,” our resources and needs are most certainly unique. We have our own police department, medical center, numerous shops & restaurants, as well as a talented team of educators, professionals and support staff to help keep life at the University moving ahead. Our specific preparations involved creating a dedicated Hazardous Weather Operations Plan as an annex to our All-Hazards Emergency Management Plan, procuring several NOAA weather radios to install near our areas of high public traffic and adjusting our public awareness/education curriculum to emphasize the environmental risks that Seattle is potentially exposed to by Mother Nature, to name a few of the steps taken. You can learn more about NWS’ StormReady program at the following link.

We're Looking for a Few Good Men (or Women)

August 08, 2013

UWEM is in the process of hiring 2 part-time STUDENT employees in our growing department. You must be a current UW student (undergraduate or graduate). Go to the HuskyJobs website and search for Jobs #71784 ir #71787. Both jobs pay $15/hour and will go through April 2014. One position is to staff our Seismic Campus Resilience Project and the other is to develop an EOC Emergency Radio program.

Survey Says 46% of 630 Campuses Don’t Have Enough Staff to Respond Appropriately to Emergencies

July 16, 2013

In Campus Safety Magazine’s 2013 Yearbook they included the results of their 2012 Opinion Survey that included responses from over 630 campus protection stakeholders to a variety of questions. The results of the survey sheds light on several critical campus safety issues about how ready we really are as a nation to major incidents on our campuses. Click here for more information.

Hold On... Cities will Experience More and Costlier Disasters this Century

July 09, 2013

Noted journalist and urban planner Neal Peirce recently posted an Op-Ed piece in a number of national newspapers warning us that most urban areas in the US and world should be prepared for more severe and costly disasters, like Superstorm Sandy that hit NYC in 2013. For his insight and recommendations, click here

FEMA is hiring 700 CORE Responders

June 28, 2013

There is a great opportunity for anyone wanting to get a start on a new emergency management career. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is hiring 700 new CORE (cadre of response/recovery employees) position nation-wide.

If you are interested or know of someone who is interested, you can learn more about the positions at the USA Jobs website. It appears that these positions are only open for about a week, so move quickly if you plan to apply.

"Operation Flashpoint" Exercise is Set for June 25th

June 21, 2013

On late Tuesday afternoon, June 25, 2013, the UW will conduct it’s annual functional EOC disaster exercise. Over 80 UW and local partner stakeholders will respond and recover from a SIMULATED disaster event impacting the UW-Seattle campus. This evening drill (the first one conducted after-hours) will test the UW’s ability to effectively respond to a new type of disaster! The participants only know the time and date and not the disaster. But it will not be an earthquake, shooting, plane crash, chemical spill or power outage. Can you guess what the mystery disaster will be? STAY TUNED!!

Training of the Week: Continuity of Operations Planning for Pandemic Influenza

June 13, 2013

FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute has a comprehensive resource for helping you and your department, office or organization begin planning what to do if pandemic diseases begin to manifest here in the Puget Sound region. IS-520: Introduction to Continuity of Operations Planning for Pandemic Influenzas is found here and we have education & training materials on our main homepage that were developed during the H1N1 Flu event several years ago.

While focusing specifically on how to prepare for a public health incident involving various strains of influenza virus, many of these “best practices” are just as useful in reducing your risk from other epidemic diseases, like the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome - Coronavirus MERS-CoV. With many UW-affiliated community members traveling abroad for summer or returning to their home countries to visit family, the potential to encounter this hazard is clear in a globally-connected city like Seattle.

Is It Safe To Go Back In?

June 05, 2013

With today’s news of a building collapsing in downtown Philadelphia, UW Emergency Management would like to remind all members of the UW community of some of the resources we have to directly respond to crises on campus.

The PEAT (Pre-Entry Assessment Team) is a group of specially-trained professionals here at UW Seattle and UW Tacoma who can mobilize to monitor disaster sites for chemical or other hazardous material (HAZMAT) presence before advising first-responders, employees or students that it is safe to return inside of a building. They are equipped to operate for up to 72 hours without outside assistance if necessary, based upon identified needs experience during the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake. You can learn more about how our PEAT works here.

Depending on the original emergency that occurs, the Applied Technology Council’s field manual for evaluating buildings’ structural safety after earthquakes may also be referenced by first responders. ATC-20 utilizes a skillset more often found in UW Facilities Services department, as well as Campus Engineering, among others.

25 Technology "Must-Have's" for Disaster Preparedness

May 30, 2013

With our increasing reliance on technology for our day-to-day lives, its almost impossible to think of how we could survive with it. Check out the following online article (click here) for 25 online tech tools, apps and gadgets to help you and your family ride out the next storm.