Guide to Emergency Plans in Port Ludlow
Emergency preparedness is not only important for individuals and families, but for towns, cities and counties of all sizes. We live in a spectacularly beautiful place, so it’s hard to think about the potential for natural and manmade disaster, like earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, hazardous material spills and the like, but being prepared reduces the anxiety, fear and losses, that can accompany them.
According to a report by Jefferson County Emergency Management, there have been 11 Presidential Declared Disasters since 1962, with eight of those the result of severe storms that caused flooding, landslides and wind damage. The 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption and the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake also resulted in damage to property within the county.
While that’s a relatively small amount considering they’ve occurred over nearly six decades, no matter what the odds of an event it’s essential to be ready prepared, just in case. As Jefferson County continues to grow, the magnitude of the impacts of natural and human-made disasters on human life and economic development increases, as the report adds. And, no matter what the chances of one affecting you and your family directly, the more you’re prepared, the better off you’ll be.
Natural hazards that could significantly impact our county include:
- Volcano eruption
There are also human-made hazards that exist too, including food and water contamination, energy emergency, dam failure and civil disturbance.
The most common disaster that has occurred in Jefferson County over the past 60 years is flooding and landslides due to severe storms.
There have been relatively few earthquakes that would be considered major in Jefferson County, although they have been reported in the region since as early as 1834. Shaking at a Modified Mercalli Intensity of at least VI, which means strong enough to be felt by all and to move heavy furniture, did occur in the county during the 1872 North Cascades earthquake, as well as the 1909, 1949, 1965, and 2001 Puget Sound earthquakes. No major damaging earthquakes have been shown to have occurred within the county before the advent of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) in 1969. The largest earthquake recorded in the county was a magnitude 4.2 event on June 8, 1980, south of Blyn.
Despite that, Jefferson County has taken a number of measures to prepare for the “Big One,” should it occur, such as an exercise in 2016 which simulated the impact of a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, with ground shaking lasting as long as five minutes. That type of major quake off the Washington coast, the county says, would send “multiple waves into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and throughout Hood Canal and Puget Sound, therefore the exercise was designed to test and improve joint operations between federal, state and local emergency management and response agencies, tribal nations, businesses and nongovernmental organizations across Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia, Canada.”
While that may sound like a lot of gloom and doom, the good news is that both Port Ludlow and Jefferson County have very detailed plans in place to help you and everyone in your neighborhood to become better prepared for a worst-case-scenario. Neighbors can share skills, equipment and other needed resources.
Port Ludlow Emergency Management Plans
The Port Ludlow Village Council has a committee dedicated to emergency management. It includes Acting Chair Bill Dean, and committee members Pat Lohrey, Ginny Munger, Tink Green and Harlan Whitling.
The Port Ludlow emergency program is dedicated to educating residents on preparedness, to serve as a communications vehicle and to facilitate self-help should a disaster occur. As the PLVC notes, disaster refers to a “natural or man-made event (such as a storm, earthquake, wildfire or explosion) that could result in one or more of the following conditions: (a) causes substantial property damage and/or serious injuries to residents; (b) shuts down the telephone system; (c) results in extended power outage and/or (d) disrupts transportation. Other, smaller scale emergencies like a small scale house fire, vehicle accidents, etc. are handled by the Fire Department through calling 911.
In addition to the committee, there are more than 100 trained volunteer neighborhood Block Captains, coordinated by North Bay or South Bay Emergency Management Coordinators (Port Ludlow is divided into North Bay and South Bay), along with a CERT Coordinator and Radio/HAM Coordinators.
The Block Captains are in charge of their particular area, and develop a roster of residents, with information on everyone, including whether or not they might have special skills to help in an emergency, or if they have special needs or limitations that potential rescuers should know about. They also distribute preparedness information, including encouraging every residence to have their own preparedness plan, having a supply of food, water and other essentials to subsist independently for at least three weeks.
Every resident is also given a HELP/OK sign so that during an emergency, if assistance is needed, during a disaster, the Block Captain will drive or walk around the area and determine who is okay, and who needs help. Each captain then reports to the North Bay or South Bay Coordinator, depending on which they belong to. The coordinator is then able to track where help is needed, what the hazards are, and report that information through the Director and HAM radio designee. The radio communication system referred to as FRS (Family Radio System), links 34 separate neighborhoods in Port Ludlow with the South and North Bay Communication Centers, located at the Bay and Beach Clubs. The FRS receives the information from the coordinators and then relays the critical needs to the Fire Department, or Jefferson County Emergency Management, depending on the particular situation.
After that information is relayed, the Captains organize uninjured neighbors who are fit to help, and provide assistance to others who are in need. There are also certified Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), located throughout the community who have been trained to provide more in-depth assistance should disaster occur.
As PLVC emergency management committee member Ginny Munger notes, there are also regular radio drills. Both FRS radios and HAM radio operators are used, as there are some messages FRS radios can’t send due to distance. In addition Munger says, the committee is working on building a list of resources, such as people who have medical training, electricians, plumbers, veterinarians, etc., who can be called in to help. As the fire station resources will be limited, they are also working at making Port Ludlow as self-sufficient as possible. If needed, both the Beach Club in North Bay and the Bay Club in South Bay can be used as Red Cross shelters.
Neighborhoods and towns that organize their resources in a disaster are much better prepared for the first 72 hours after a disaster.
The PLVC also hosts occasional emergency training preparedness training through the Red Cross for all Port Ludlow residents, which includes literature, check lists and other information that’s essential to know for creating a family emergency plan, building your own emergency preparation kit, and information about hazards that are specific to the Olympic Peninsula, like fires, earthquakes and tsunamis.
Jefferson County is on a peninsula, but its main supply routes make it feel like an island as two of the three major transportation links, the Ferry System and the Hood Canal Bridge, cross water. Of course the bridge and the ferry system can be affected by severe winter storms, tsunami and earthquakes. Should a tsunami follow an earthquake, it is possible that combination could to take out the primary transportation routes in and out of the county, resulting in the need for Jefferson County to be self-sufficient for what could be a large number of days, and then be supplemented by emergency transportation assistance – all of these plans have been put into place to increase the odds of resident survival.
Jefferson County Public Utility District (PUD) works with county officials and the Jefferson-Peninsula Regional Planning Committee (JPREP) to assure reliable power, particularly during severe local storms. This operational level work group consists of local emergency response agencies, support organizations, and disaster relief volunteer groups. Its purpose is to provide an ongoing forum for the exchange of information and collaborative planning to meet emergency needs. The PUD maintains service vehicles and a list of employees that live on the Jefferson County side of the Hood Canal Bridge so that response times will be timely during severe weather-related conditions or disasters. In the event that the bridge is closed, there are employees and a resource plan ready and prepared to respond for emergencies that may occur in East Jefferson County, including Port Ludlow.
Jefferson County Department of Emergency Management
In addition to Port Ludlow’s emergency management committee, Jefferson County offers its own, in order to help prepare for, respond to and recover from disaster in all types of large scale emergencies in the county.
It offers a very helpful guide which the Port Ludlow Village Council also keeps on file and can be found here online. Think. Plan. Do! Repeat is an extensive, detailed guide for individuals and neighborhoods that can help ensure that you, your family and neighbors are prepared in the event of an emergency. The handbook includes individual and household preparedness to shelter in place; evacuation information, GRAB&GO KITS, local resources to neighborhood preparedness, disaster-specific preparedness, health emergencies, and even boat and water safety tips, which is especially important for Port Ludlow, considering the many boat owners here.
The county also has a mobile command post, which is a fully functioning Emergency Operation Center that can be taken to any remote location throughout Jefferson County. When deployed, it serves as the coordination center for all of disaster operations and management including intelligence gathering, planning, logistics, fire, law, public works, mass care, public health and more.
Washington State Emergency Management
In addition to local and county emergency preparedness, the state also offers a wealth of information on how to be prepared along with emergency contacts throughout Jefferson and Clallam Counties that can be accessed here. It includes household emergency preparation, evacuation routes, what to do in a power outage, avoiding and surviving rip currents, special tips and multiple other resources.
There is even more information at the Washington State Department of Health, covering everything from hot and cold weather safety, home fires and water purification to terrorism and sewage spills.
Signing Up for Text Message and Email Alerts
The Jefferson County Department of Emergency Management will send out emergency information alerts in regard to severe weather, tsunami warnings, major traffic closures and other local emergencies. You can sign up by visiting www.jeffcoeoc.org, clicking on the phone icon to subscribe to free text alerts and email messages about emergencies that affect Jefferson County as they happen.