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Latest Updates

Cascadia Rising Shows our Inadequacies

Oct 23

Written by:
10/23/2016 2:52 PM  RssIcon

The Seattle Times took a look at the Cascadia Rising final draft report: we failed.

Not so much Vashon, but the state.

The article is at:

The draft report is at:

Executive Summary

Overarching Conclusions

A large magnitude Cascadia Subduction Zone fault earthquake and tsunami is perhaps one of the most complex disaster scenarios we face as emergency management and public safety officials in the Pacific Northwest. Due to this complexity, life-saving and life-sustaining response operations will hinge on the effective coordination and integration of governments at all levels – cities, counties, state agencies, federal departments, the military, and tribal nations – as well as non-governmental organizations and the private sector. It is this joint-operational whole community approach that we worked to enhance and test during the Cascading Rising exercise.

In broad context, Cascadia Rising was not merely a week long exercise held in the second week of June 2016, but a two-year event with many building-block events that contributed to the whole community’s (local-state-tribal-federal) analysis, planning, and assumptions about catastrophic preparedness.

Through the two-year ramp-up and the culminating functional and full scale exercises, the following overarching conclusions can be drawn:

There is an urgent need for residents to prepare

Despite the ongoing public education efforts and community preparedness programs, our families, communities, schools, hospitals, and businesses are not prepared for the catastrophic disaster that a worst-case CSZ earthquake would cause.

There is an urgent need for state and local government – agencies, emergency management, leadership – to complete comprehensive and coordinated response plans

The professional responders – fire services, law enforcement, public works, public health, and emergency management organizations – among others, have not sufficiently planned and rehearsed for a catastrophic event where they themselves are in the impact zone.

Catastrophic response is fundamentally different than any response we have seen before

  • In the CSZ scenario, response infrastructure is damaged. The people, equipment, facilities, power, bulk fuels, and other material resources that would normally be called upon to respond to a typical disaster such as wildfire, winter storms, or flooding will be in the impact-zone which will cover half the states of Washington and Oregon and areas of British Columbia.
  • A “Push” response is required. The typical response to incidents and disasters begins at the local level – dispatch, fire, law enforcement, public works, etc. Once the local level and mutual aid is overwhelmed, requests for support are elevated to the county, then state, and if required to the federal level. This is commonly referred to as a “pull” system, here the highest level of government pulls up only requests for support in order to respond. Cascadia Rising proved this approach is grossly inadequate in response to a CSZ earthquake due to the wide spread damage, sense of urgency, and barriers to normal communication and coordination. Prior to the exercise, state, federal, and military logistical planners identified a “pull” approach would likely be inadequate and adjusted procedures to coordinate a more proactive approach. The exercise reinforced the need for planners at the federal and state levels to develop procedures that facilitate effective “push” operations under appropriate circumstances, manage aid deployment, and establish related accountability standards.
  • A massive response will be required. The scale of damage to critical infrastructure that would be caused by a full rip of the entire fault line would be massive and affect millions of people from the coast through the I-5 corridor to the Cascades from British Columbia to Northern California.
  • While the principal goal of initial response is to sustain the maximum number of survivors until a robust transportation capability is restored, the clock is ticking to a humanitarian disaster.
  • Because of the severe damage to the power grid, transportation networks, and drinking water facilities, the first order damage from intense shaking, liquefaction, landslides, and large tsunami will lead to second and third order problems of food and water shortages, sanitation issues, heating issues, and other public health and healthcare related issues.

Way Ahead

  •  Publish and present the After Action Report to the Emergency Management Council.
  •  Brief the Governor’s Office.
  •  Implement Resilient WA subcabinet.
  •  Continue to develop the state catastrophic plan with a focus on detailed concepts and appropriate ESF engagement.
  •  Public Outreach and messaging.

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