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Below are news articles that have been archived by our staff.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.

From Chile to Seattle: What that earthquake might look like here.

March 29, 2010

A recent article from the New York Times examines that potential of damage for an earthquake similar to that of Chile occurring in Seattle. It’s an important reminder of our need to be prepared. You can read the article here.

If you are interested, our office offers classes on earthquake safety on a regular basis. Anyone with questions regarding earthquake safety may contact us by e-mail.

UW Building Disaster Inspection Teams Ready for Action

March 11, 2010

A little-known resource at the UW-Seattle campus has been preparing for the “BIG ONE” for years. Known as the ATC-20 Teams, this specialized team of UW professional staff has been training and preparing for major disasters for years. Supported by UWEM and various internal disaster grants, these building officials continually train and prepare for evaluating and tagging/marking the UW-Seattle buildings after a disaster. Click here for a detailed story from University Week.

Prepare in a Year, Monthly Tip: Storing Water

March 02, 2010

March Tip: Storing Water. Water is essential for survival. The ground trembling and shaking caused by earthquakes can crack or break the lines that bring fresh water to your house. You may have to rely for three days or more on the water you have stored.WA State Emergency Management

Humanitarian Relief Logistics Lecture-March 4, 2010

March 01, 2010

GTTL Studies invites you to join us for a lecture by humanitarian relief and development worker Nick Macdonald on Thursday, March 4th from 4:30 to 6:20 p.m. at Mary Gates Hall, Room 241. Nick Macdonald has over 10 years of experience working for a variety of relief and development organizations assisting in areas of conflict, natural disasters, and developing countries. His field experience includes Kosovo, Albania, Croatia, Serbia, Indonesia, Central Asia, and leadership roles in Mercy Corps’ responses to the Indian Ocean Tsunami and the Gulf Coast Hurricanes. Most recently he has worked on disaster risk reduction with the inter-agency Emergency Capacity Building Project, CARE and Save the Children, and currently works for Mercy Corps, forging innovative partnerships between development practitioners and academic researchers to improve development practices.

Help for Victims of the Haiti Earthquake

January 17, 2010

The catastrophic 7.0 earthquake in Haiti on January 12th has brought terrible misery to the residents of Haiti. It has also brought out the spirit of giving and hope to the rest of the world. Residents of the UW community and Washington State are often bombarded with a confusing string of public messages on how best to help the many people in need in Haiti. UWEM is happy to provide a 2-page guide sheet, click here for more information as well as UW Human Resources Haiti Resources page and FAQs. The UW’s Office of Global Affairs also has more information on how to help. Their Haiti earthquake website can be found by clicking here

New Study Puts Megaquake Closer to Seattle

November 17, 2009

New research concludes that the Cascadia Subduction Zone actually sits only 50 miles away from the Seattle area. Previously it was thought to sit miles off the Washington coast line. This means a major fault sits closer to where the mass populations reside resulting in greater potential damage from Cascadia than previously believed. Click here to read the full article from the Seattle Times

Various Information Sources for the Potential Green River Flooding

October 07, 2009

There is a potential for serious flooding in the Green River Valley that runs from South Auburn to North Tukwila in South King County. UW Emergency Management does not expect a direct impact to any UW campus should the flooding occur, but secondary impacts to students, staff and faculty who live or commute through that area could occur. Some reduction in service from utilities, transportation and communication infrastructure may also occur. For general information click here. For detailed floodzone maps, click [here]

Temperatures to reach over 100 in Seattle!

August 17, 2009

Exposure to excessive heat can cause illness, injury and even death. Approximately 688 people die each year from exposure to extreme heat (CDC). The elderly, young children and people with chronic health problems are most at risk.

Be alert to the symptoms of heat related illnesses to make this a safer summer for you and your loved ones.

Follow the link to Hot Weather Precautions and Tips to Stay Cool

UW Disaster Plan a National Model

July 24, 2009

(07/10/09) The US Federal Communications Commission has selected the University of Washington's all-hazard disaster plan as one of only 9 national models for campus disaster response and recovery. The UW's plan is updated every two years and has served as a model to many other colleges and universities. By posting our disaster plan on the FCC's clearinghouse website, we hope to provide a leadership example to our peer institutions across the country and across the globe. KUDOS to UWEM and rest of the UW!

FEMA grant funds facelift for collections storage at the Burke Museum

July 24, 2009

(07/09/09) The Burke Museum will be renovating its collection storage areas over the next two years, moving items from open shelves to new storage compactors that protect them from light and dust and possible damage from earthquakes. UWEM assisted the Burke in applying for this grant.

The renovation is being funded through a $700,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency Hazard Grant. Compactors — basically storage units on wheels — can increase the efficiency of a space by about 50 percent, allowing more objects to be protected, according to Ron Eng, the Burke's geology collections manager. "The trade-off is that you do lose the convenience of fixed aisles," Eng said.

It's a massive move indeed — millions of objects and specimens from the Burke's ethnology and geology collections will be moved into new storage units.

More than half of the geology collections, ranging from dinosaur bones to fossil flowers, will be moved, as well as the entire textile collection and the contemporary Northwest Coast print collection.

Click on the headline for more details!

National Lightning Safety Awareness Week June 21-27, 2009

June 30, 2009

Summer is the peak season for one of America's deadliest weather phenomena-lightning. In 2008, hundreds of people were permanently injured by lightning strikes across the country, and 28 were killed. This year to-date, 11 people have been killed by lightning, and statistically, the Fourth of July is one of the most deadly times of the year. According to FEMA Acting Regional Administrator Dennis Hunsinger, National Lightning Safety Awareness Week, observed the last full week of June, not only helps get safety messages out in time for the Fourth of July, but also signals summer as lightning season.

Prepare in a Year - June Tip - Extended Event Supplies

June 30, 2009

(June 4, 2009) - Coping with the impact of a disaster is never fun. However, much of the inconvenience and discomfort the disaster causes can be reduced by planning alternative ways to take care of your needs.

UW H1N1 News Alert (06/12/09, 11:00 am)

June 15, 2009

The World Health Organization yesterday raised the global alert for the H1N1 (Swine) flu to the highest level: 6. The announcement of a global pandemic confirms what we anticipated: H1N1 continues to spread widely around the world. For weeks we have been intensively planning and preparing for the anticipated return of the virus in the fall and we will continue on that path.

That means we're continuing to closely monitor disease trends at the UW working with our partners in King County. H1N1 flu is still circulating in our community, but the level of illness appears to be decreasing, with fewer reports of flu-like illness from hospitals and schools. H1N1 virus has caused a disproportionate number of cases and hospitalizations in younger people, with 57% of the cases nationally among people aged 5-25 years of age. 41% of the hospitalizations are also among this age group.

The severity of the H1N1 virus has not changed here in King County or anywhere around the world. The WHO's declaration of a pandemic (phase 6) is based on geographic spread of the influenza virus, not on the severity of the illness.
It's important to note that although H1N1 activity is decreasing in King County as we enter the summer, we anticipate significantly more widespread outbreaks this fall and winter. This may include the potential for an increased number of illnesses and deaths in younger persons than during a typical flu season. Since this is a new virus strain, we know that many people will not have immunity to H1N1 flu.

This is a critical time to prepare for whatever the flu might bring in the fall.

o Public Health is collaborating with health care, schools and other community partners to be ready (including the UW).

o Individuals and families must also prepare, including taking steps now to plan for possible school closures (such as setting up alternative child care and finding ways to work from home) and absences from work.

o Businesses and organizations must also be ready to cope with a reduced work force if many become ill or need to stay at home.

Influenza can be serious for many people, regardless of whether it's this new strain of swine flu or the seasonal flu we see annually. In the coming months, we encourage you to continue to prepare at home, school and work, and to check Public Health's website for updated information: www.kingcounty.gov/health/H1N1.

UW H1N1 Update (posted 05/11/09, 9:45 am)

June 12, 2009

Case counts nationally, and throughout Washington State will continue to rise with new CDC testing and reporting protocols. The H1N1 virus is a mild strain; presenting no significant threat at this time in comparison to seasonal influenza. UW emergency operations will transition back to a virtual (pre-response) phase with heightened alerts about the fall influenza season and possible mutation. UW Emergency Management is also returning to normal status as of May 11, 2009.

UWEM UPDATES on the H1N1 outbreak will "turned off" on Wednesday May 13th. All past updates can be found in the News Archives (right-hand column). More information can also be found on the UWEM Pandemic Flu website.

Work Begins on Padelford Garage Seismic Upgrade

June 12, 2009

(May 28, 2009) Work has begun on strengthening the Padelford Garage and Pedestrian walkway. This $621,000 project is funded 75% by FEMA and will ensure that the structure will withstand a moderate earthquake. Work will be done in phases and will continue into September 2009.

H1N1 Flu Outbreak South of the Border spreads to US

May 12, 2009

(ongoing) The UW and members of the Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases are continuously monitoring the deadly outbreak of human-to-human transmission of H1N1 (previously called "swine") flu throughout the globe in Mexico and reported cases in eleven states in the US. We are coordinating and preparing appropriate response activities for the UW community based on input and guidance from local, statewide and regional public health officials. Stay tuned for more information and updates. (SEE UPDATES on main UWEM homepage)

H1N1 Update: 05/05/09, 11:00 am

May 11, 2009

Federal health officials have confirmed suspected swine flu (H1N1) cases in Washington, which joins 38 other states that have confirmed cases. Nine people in our state have been confirmed with swine flu - seven in King; one each in Snohomish and Spokane Counties.

H1N1 Update 05/07/09 12:00 pm

May 11, 2009

Washington State continues to confirm additional cases of H1N1 virus. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed 14 additional cases of swine flu in Washington, bringing the state's total confirmed cases to 23. The state Department of Health released the new CDC results Wednesday afternoon. Since Tuesday's update, 12 cases were confirmed in King County and two in Snohomish County. King County now has a total of 19 confirmed cases, Snohomish County has three and Spokane County has one. King and Snohomish county health agencies say none of their confirmed cases is hospitalized.

UW Human Resource Guidance to H1N1 Inquiries (05/05/09, 8:00 am)

May 07, 2009

A number of questions have surfaced following the outbreak of H1N1 influenza. In coordination with UW's Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases, Human Resources has outlined practices you should follow based on the most current public health information. The following information will help you and your department's managers address questions and concerns, understand how to manage leave, and know whom to call for additional assistance.

Employees with Symptoms of Influenza: Only employees who exhibit symptoms of influenza need to stay home. Symptoms are: fever greater than 100F or 37.8C, sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, chills, headache and body aches, and fatigue (some people have also reported diarrhea and vomiting). Follow your department's standard practices for requesting and tracking leave. For example, you should not require a health care provider's medical certificate unless you would have otherwise done so.

Employees with Suspected Exposure: Employees who have had exposure to an individual with a suspected or confirmed case of H1N1 influenza do not need to stay home unless they exhibit symptoms, or unless public health authorities provide other guidance. You should not attempt to discourage an otherwise well employee from reporting to work.

Employees with Confirmed Exposure: If an employee has had exposure to a confirmed H1N1 influenza case, and that person is non symptomatic but wants to stay home as a precaution against possible infection of others, you may permit the employee to do so. If possible, the employee should be allowed work from home. If working from home is not possible, you may permit the use of sick leave for up to 7 days, with written confirmation of exposure to an H1N1 positive individual. If a situation like this arises and you would like further guidance or assistance, contact your unit's human resources consultant.

Return to Work: No special action is needed when an employee who has had suspected or actual H1N1 influenza is ready to return to work. For example, you should not require a health care provider's clearance to return to work unless you would have otherwise done so.

Health and Safety Concerns: If you have a situation where an employee wants to remain at or return to work, but you are not certain it is medically safe, contact your human resources consultant. Your human resources consultant will help determine what action should be taken and will coordinate obtaining medical or public health advice.

Co-Worker Concerns: If an employee calls in sick with suspected or confirmed H1N1 influenza, be sensitive to the real and/or perceived threat co-workers may face, especially those with compromised immune systems. If someone in your department has such a concern, you should:

  • Alert your human resources consultant who can help plan immediate steps for situations that present special health or safety concerns.

  • Call Campus Health Services, for medical guidance. Office: 206-543-8912

  • Advise employees whose health conditions may increase their risk of influenza-related complications to contact their health care providers.

School and Day Care Closures: As a reminder, an employee who has to stay home as a result of unplanned closure of a school or childcare facility is eligible to take leave for emergency childcare in accordance with the normal provisions of the individual's employment program.

Please share this information within your department as appropriate.

H1N1 Update (04/29/09, 9:05 pm)

May 07, 2009

The King County Health Department announced Wednesday evening it is monitoring 6 suspected cases of swine flu. Three of those cases are believed to be in Seattle. Spokane County is reporting one possible case and Snohomish County is also reporting two probable cases of the swine flu.

In Seattle, those affected include an 11-year-old boy who became sick earlier this week, suffering from a cough. He has since been admitted into the hospital where he is being treated. He is a student at Madrona Elementary School. Another man who may have the virus is in his 20's lives in Seattle and was seen in a clinic setting. A third person who may have the virus is a 33-year-old Seattle area physician. Her husband and children have symptoms but are improving.

The laboratory samples have been sent to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Public Health - Seattle & King County is awaiting final confirmation. The CDC has determined that the swine flu virus H1N1 is contagious and is spreading from human to human. Symptoms of swine flu include a fever of more than 100-degrees F, coughing, joint aches, severe headache and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.

"Now that swine flu is likely in King County, we expect to see more infections, but it's too early to say how severe the illnesses will be. We are working to provide needed information and assistance to these people and their families. We are also working with health care providers and community partners to prepare in the event that the situation becomes more serious," said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health - Seattle & King County.

H1N1 Flu Update (04/29/09, 13:45 pm)

May 07, 2009

From CNN: The World Health Organization raised its pandemic alert to 5, its second-highest level Wednesday, indicating the outbreak of swine flu that originated in Mexico is nearing widespread human infection. Dr. Margaret Chan, the U.N. agency's director-general, said the decision means that all countries should "immediately" activate pandemic preparedness plans. "This change to a higher phase of alert is a signal to governments, to ministries of health and other ministries, to the pharm industry and the business community that certain actions now should be taken with increased urgency and at an accelerated pace," Chan said.

The announcement came as the number of people infected with swine flu increased rapidly across the world, and health officials scrambled to get more information about the virus — which has no vaccine. "It's a virus that we've never seen before," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "There's no background immunity in the population, and it is spreading from human to human, all of which has the potential for a pandemic."

Germany and Austria on Wednesday became the latest European countries to report swine flu, while the number of cases increased in the United Kingdom and Spain. There are 132 confirmed cases in 11 countries, the majority in the United States, according to the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those figures include seven deaths in Mexico and one in the United States. The virus has been reported in 10 states, and the number of people infected with the 2009 H1N1 influenza strain grew to 91 in the U.S., the CDC said Wednesday. That number includes the first U.S. swine flu fatality: a 22-month-old child from Mexico who died of the illness Monday at a Houston, Texas, hospital. The toddler had traveled with his family to Brownsville, Texas, to visit relatives, and likely already was infected when he entered the United States, a Texas health official said Wednesday. The child was transferred to the Houston hospital when his condition worsened.

A U.S. Marine in California is the military's first suspected case of swine flu, and three military family members in San Diego have confirmed cases, the Defense Department said. As a precaution, the military is banning travel to Mexico for nonessential personnel. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is planning for a task force that would help with transportation, logistics and distributing medical supplies in the event of a pandemic, a spokesman said. It would work alongside the CDC and local authorities if requested. The U.S. government is distributing 25 percent of its stockpile of antiviral medications Tamiflu and Relenza to all states, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Wednesday. Health officials stress that the medications are effective only if taken in the early stages of the infection. In the meantime, the government is working on developing a vaccine and hopes to have a pilot version ready for testing in a few months, Fauci said. Newly confirmed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, "We are committed to ensuring that these vaccines are safe.

HHS and the [Food and Drug Administration] will monitor the manufacturing of a potential vaccine and will have strict oversight to ensure that the vaccine is safe and effective for use." President Obama called on schools with confirmed or possible swine flu cases to "consider temporarily closing so that we can be as safe as possible." At least 74 elementary, junior high and high schools have closed across the country due to confirmed or probable cases of swine flu, the Department of Education said Wednesday. Another 30 schools have closed as a precautionary measure, Department of Education spokesman Massie Ritsch said.

In Mexico, where the global outbreak originated, health officials suspect the swine flu outbreak has caused at least 159 deaths and roughly 2,500 illnesses. So far, 26 cases, including the seven deaths, have been confirmed. Mexican officials also said they believe they may have found "patient zero" — the first case of the global outbreak — in the small mountain village of La Gloria. Edgar Hernandez, 5, survived the earliest documented case of swine flu. He lives near a pig farm, though experts have not established a connection between that and his illness. Edgar has managed to bounce back from his symptoms and playfully credits ice cream for helping him feel better. Researchers do not know how the virus is jumping relatively easily from person to person, or why it's affecting what should be society's healthiest demographic. Many of the victims who have died in Mexico have been young and otherwise healthy. The deadly outbreak has prompted authorities to order about 35,000 public venues in Mexico City to shut down or serve only takeout meals as health officials tried to contain spreading of the virus. Governments around the world are scrambling to prevent further outbreak.

Some countries, such as China and Russia, have banned pork imports from the United States and Mexico, though the WHO said the disease is not transmitted through eating or preparing pig meat. Several other countries, such as Japan and Indonesia, are using thermographic devices to test the temperature of passengers arriving from Mexico. Egypt reportedly is considering culling all pigs although there have been no reported cases of swine flu there. Swine influenza, or flu, is a contagious respiratory disease that affects pigs. When the flu spreads person to person, instead of from animals to humans, it can continue to mutate, making it harder to treat or fight, because people have no natural immunity. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Common seasonal flu kills 250,000 to 500,000 people every year worldwide, far more than the current outbreak of swine flu. But there is a vaccine for seasonal flu.

(04/29/09, 10:15 AM PT) The outbreak of disease in people caused by a new influenza virus of swine origin continues to grow in the United States and internationally. Today, CDC reports additional confirmed human infections, hospitalizations and the nation's first fatality from this outbreak (in Houston, TX). The more recent illnesses and the reported death suggest that a pattern of more severe illness associated with this virus may be emerging in the U.S. Most people will not have immunity to this new virus and, as it continues to spread, more cases, more hospitalizations and more deaths are expected in the coming days and weeks.

CDC has implemented its emergency response. The agency's goals are to reduce transmission and illness severity, and provide information to help health care providers, public health officials and the public address the challenges posed by the new virus. Yesterday, CDC issued new interim guidance for clinicians on how to care for children and pregnant women who may be infected with this virus. Young children and pregnant women are two groups of people who are at high risk of serious complications from seasonal influenza. In addition, CDC's Division of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) continues to send antiviral drugs, personal protective equipment, and respiratory protection devices to all 50 states and U.S. territories to help them respond to the outbreak. The swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is susceptible to the prescription antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir. This is a rapidly evolving situation and CDC will provide updated guidance and new information as it becomes available.

H1N1 Letter #2 to the Campus Community (04/30/09, 5:00 pm)

May 05, 2009

(Sent to all Students, Faculty and Staff on behalf of the Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases)

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

As many of your have learned from news reports, six probable cases of swine influenza have now been reported in our state, three of them in King County. We can expect that number to grow in the coming days and for members of our community to become ill. So far, it appears as if people who become ill with this strain of influenza—including those in King County—are recovering.

The UW Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases (ACCD) reminds you that the best means of stemming spread of the disease is to stay home if you begin to experience any flu-like symptoms (cough, sore throat, and fever) and contact your health care provider if you experience a persistent high fever (greater than 101 degrees F.) chest pain, difficulty breathing, dehydration, or other worrisome symptoms. From the onset of symptoms, you are considered infectious for seven days and should stay home for that duration. The incubation period for the strain of influenza (from time of exposure to onset of symptoms) is considered to be seven days, as well. It is also good hygienic practice at a time like this to wash your hands frequently and cover your coughs.

The ACCD is actively monitoring the situation and is in close contact with the King County Health Department. At this time, there is no need to cancel regularly scheduled activities, like classes and other public events. We will keep you informed as the situation evolves and more information is available.

For more information and updates, go to the UW Emergency Management page at http://www.washington.edu/emergency/ or the Hall Health Center web page at http://depts.washington.edu/hhpccweb/

The Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases

Update on the Evolving H1N1 Flu Outbreak with Experts: Panel Discussion at UW May 4

May 04, 2009

Dr. David Fleming, director & health officer of Public Health — Seattle & King County and former deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will headline a panel discussion at the UW at5:30 p.m. Monday, May 4 on the evolving swine flu outbreak with leading international and regional experts.

Notice to UW Staff Planning new Swine Flu Research

April 30, 2009

UW researchers may be planning to study this emerging and rapidly evolving situation - perhaps looking at biomedical issues, or at social/behavioral issues such as the impact of social networking sites on individuals' behaviors and thoughts.

If you think you may do human subjects research of any type that is related to the current swine flu outbreak, please contact one of the UW Human Subjects Division (HSD) as soon as possible - ideally, before you finish devising your research design, procedures, and documents such as questionnaires. We will work with you or your staff to very rapidly facilitate your IRB application, review, and approval so you can start your research as soon as possible.

Swine Flu Update (04/27/09, 17:00)

April 29, 2009

Yesterday, the U.S. declared a national public health emergency; Secretary of DHS Janet Napolitano is the Principal Federal Official overseeing / coordinating the federal effort. The CDC and US DHHS are key participating agencies.

As of 13:00 EST today, the CDC has confirmed 40 cases of Swine Flu (CA - 7; KS - 2; NY - 28; OH - 1; TX - 2); all cases are mild and there have been no deaths in the United States, and all cases so far have been very mild. The CDC has issued interim guidance, available from its Swine Flu website at (see link on UWEM website). This strain of H1N1 virus is novel and contains two genes that have never been seen in swine flu viruses in North America. In the U.S., all of the cases have not involved contact with pigs; they have all been human-to-human transmission. Some of the U.S. cases involved recent travel to Mexico.

Although there are many reported/suspected cases worldwide, Mexico has 26 confirmed cases with the same virus (seven deaths); Canada has six confirmed cases (no deaths); and, Spain has one confirmed case (no deaths). Late this afternoon, the WHO raised the global pandemic alert level from phase 3 to phase 4 (which means that there is verified human-to-human transmission of an influenza virus that is able to cause "community-level outbreaks").

There are no reported cases in Washington State. In addition, throughout the state, health departments have increased surveillance efforts to detect Swine Flu; this is occurring around the country as well.

This afternoon, the UW Office of Emergency Management, in conjunction with the UW's Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases (ACCD) developed an email "blast" message to the University Community on Swine Flu; UWEM will maintain and update an informational website at www.washington.edu/emergency/pandemic throughout this event. In addition, the ACCD is organizing another meeting for later in the week to discuss status of the outbreak, external efforts, and our own internal preparations should the Swine Flu affect the UW. Subsequent conference calls and face-to-face meetings will be scheduled as necessary. UWEM will maintain contact with federal, state, local, and other partners, including colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and Canada, to keep abreast of current trends, emerging situations, and official information and guidance. As of this update, the UW has done what many other higher education institutions have done (provided information to the campus community, organized a campus response, etc.).

The ACCD group (Key Decision Makers) will be updated daily, or more/less frequently as the situation warrants. This group is comprised of the Vice Provost for Student Life, Housing and Food Services, EH&S, Media Relations, Human Resources, International Programs & Exchanges, Global Affairs, Hall Health Center, Attorney General's Office, Risk Management and UWEM.