Newsletter: October, 2008

UWEM Awards $100,000 in Internal Disaster Grants

A number of UW departments and operating units (including this year the UW Medical Center, Laboratory Medicine, Housing and Food Servcies, Earth & Space Sciences, Human Resources, Intercollegiate Athletics and UW Technology) were recently awarded a total of $100,000 in internal emergency preparedness grants as part of the fifth year of the UW-internal emergency preparedness grant program.

Seventeen excellent and competitive proposals were submitted by the September 1st deadline. The year, for the first time, nearly 100% of all departments received full or partial funding for projects that will enhance the UW’s disaster preparedness efforts.

Click for a summary of the successful proposals (PDF). All projects must be completed by June 1, 2009.

— Steve Charvat, UWEM Director

UWEM Staff Distinctions

UWEM is happy to announce that our new Plans and Training Manager, Siri-Elizabeth McLean, has been elected as Chair of the Partners in Emergency Preparedness for 2008-2009. In this leadership role, she will oversee a 501(c)(3) non-profit board in developing and producing the Northwest’s largest disaster management conference. The 2009 Conference will take place April 14-15, 2009 at the Tacoma Convention Center. Go to: for more information. Congratulations Siri!

Steve Charvat, UWEM Director, was re-elected to the Cascadia Regional Earthquake Workgroup (CREW) Board of Directors at its summer meeting in Portland, OR. He will continue to serve as the CREW Secretary as a member of the Executive Board.

Updated 2008 Winter Forecast Just Released

Hello Everyone!

Well, summer definitely feels like its coming to a close (darn!) and I guess well be looking forward to rain, wind and dark afternoons (double darn!!), but maybe not - according to Ted Buehner from the Seattle National Weather Service Office. Hes offered this forecast for this upcoming winter for the Puget Sound and Pacific Northwest Region

Unlike La Nina and El Nino years, this will be a “neutral” year which for our area generally mean a bit warmer than usual and a bit dryer than usual. February through April we stand a good chance of seeing below normal snowpack. Neutral years are not without their own specific hazards and most of us think of the “Pineapple Express” flooding conditions that we have experienced in years past.

Maybe it wont be so bad after allSorry skiers and snowboarders, we cant have a bumper crop of snow every year! So, stay dry - we wish you a safe and pleasant autumn!!!

— Dede Hough, Fiscal Specialist

Partners in Emergency Preparedness Conference

The Partners in Emergency Preparedness Conference is the largest and most successful regional emergency preparedness conference in the Pacific Northwest. Partners in Emergency Preparedness annually hosts nearly 700 people representing business, schools, government, the nonprofit sector, emergency management professionals, and volunteer organizations. The 2009 conference will take place April 14-15, 2009 at the Tacoma Convention Center.

The Partners Conference attracts top-notch speakers with expertise that includes earthquake research, contingency planning, school preparedness, technology, news media, and public health. Speakers and exhibitors provide cutting-edge information on subjects such as business continuity planning, school safety, public health preparedness, homeland security, and public information.

— Siri-Elizabeth McLean, PEP Conference Chair


If so, youve been hearing the preliminary testing of the UW Outdoor Alert, the emergency broadcast system recently installed in the blue phone towers around campus.

UW Technology, UW Emergency Management, UW Police Department and the Crisis Communications Committee are working together to create a robust and reliable outdoor alert program for the UW campus. UW Technology has been testing the equipment and training people to make broadcast announcements in the event of an emergency on campus.

Beginning Fall Quarter, Outdoor Alert tests will be conducted at the beginning of each academic quarter and during each school break. Regular testing of the equipment will help ensure the system remains operational and it will also help familiarize the campus community with the outdoor alert broadcasts.
In a real emergency the broadcast announcement will tell you what is happening, what you should do or where you should go. The test announcements will always begin and end with the words, This is a test.
Stay tuned!

— Clarice Hall, Special Projects

The Soup Ladies

The Soup Ladies is a nonprofit volunteer organization working to bring hot meals fueled with high carb and high protein foods to help sustain emergency workers during times of disasters. They are a small cooking operation with only about a dozen soup ladies who can be activated to respond to a scene with their mobile kitchen and produce thousands of hot meals in no time.

Eight years ago Ginger Passarelli , the owner of Mama Passarellis restaurant in Black Diamond, started serving soup to her church community after services. In December of 2003 a storm caused a great deal of damage to her neighborhood requiring many volunteers to gather and start debris removal. Ginger and a few friends from her church set up in a parking lot and began feeding these volunteers. They were soon dubbed the Soul Ladies of Maple Valley. Since that day they have grown into a full organization that have served not only emergency crews in the northwest, but Ginger has made six trips to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina as well as feeding the firefighters battling wild fires in California.

What these Soup Ladies bring to an emergency scene is priceless. So many of the responders are working tireless hours and the idea of getting a hot home cooked meal can truly lift their spirits. In Gingers dedication to assisting communities and emergency responders all volunteers working for Soup Ladies have taken basic ICS training to help in their understanding of the response structure when they arrive on scene.

Ginger started this organization out of the kindness of her heart and giving spirit. To this day she operates out of donations and what her restaurant can spare.

— Siri-Elizabeth McLean, Plans & Training Manager

UW Receives Free Weather Radios

Who ever said nothing in life is free? They obviously are not aware that the UW (along with every other institution of higher education) received a free NOAA tone-alert weather radio. Actually, the UW received 7 of these specialized radios that provide accurate and timely warnings of severe weather and other local emergencies.

The 7 radios (5 at the UW Seattle campus and one each for the Tacoma and Bothell campuses) were provided by a joint funding program from NOAA/National Weather Service, the US Department of Education, FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security.

The UW Office of Emergency Management will be utilizing our weather alert radio to supplement the current weather radio in our office. We plan on installing the new unit in our new EOC…. that is, if we ever end of moving out of the Bryant Building.

— Steve Charvat, UWEM Director