Sammamish disaster planning “not enough,” says City Manager

June 23, 2016: Sammamish participation in the Cascadia Rising earthquake drill this month was labeled a success, but City Manager Lyman Howard acknowledged the level and scope of participation wasn’t enough.

Lyman made his remarks in an interview last week with Sammamish Comment.

Sammamish wasn’t going to participate at all until The Comment began making inquiries last fall about failure to sign up for the multi-state, multi-jurisdictional, international drill. The drill, assuming an earthquake from then Cascadia fault line off the West Coast, encompassed British Columbia to Northern California.

The drill’s parameters assumed Sammamish telephone and cell phone communications were disrupted and damage on major arterials leading in and out of the City occurred.

Howard told The Comment that Sammamish focused on its inter-agency and emergency communications with local citizen groups, such as the Info Hubs operated by the Sammamish Citizen Corp and CERTs; and Sammamish Plateau Water. City Hall was evacuated. But links to the County and State weren’t tested, nor were there actual drills in the City.

“It’s not enough [what the City did], I’ll be honest,” Howard said. “We’re talking with CERT about annual drills.”

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Sammamish scrambles to join multi-state, multi-jurisdictional earthquake drill after skipping sign-up deadline last year

Sammamish had no plans to participate in a regional earthquake preparedness drill, skipping a sign-up last year.

Note: this is 2,900 words with illustrations.

  • Participants, Sammamish Council Members say Sammamish wasn’t going to be involved in four-day drill.
  • Within hours of inquiries, City officials advised Sammamish Citizens Corp and County emergency coordinator that the City will be involved.
  • Neighboring cities, emergency services, King County and other government agencies to participate.
  • Sammamish skipped last year’s sign-up deadline–but can join now; training for others underway for months.
  • Drill scenario calls for a 9.0 earthquake off Washington coast, 7.2 quake in Sammamish.
  • Drill to test preparedness, inter-agency coordination, response.
  • As goes Sammamish, so goes Klahanie area.

Figure 1. Two earthquake fault zones run deep into Sammamish, one through the far south and another on an east-west line entering the city at about SE 33rd Way (around the 7-11) and extending underneath Pine Lake. The entire western bluff of the city is subject to landslides in an earthquake. Click on image to enlarge.

Sammamish city officials scrambled last week to tell the City Council, a city emergency group and the emergency management coordinator for Eastern King County that the City will join a four-day, multi-state, multi-jurisdictional earthquake disaster drill next June after skipping the sign-up last year—something that, King County, fire departments, the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District and every neighboring city have joined.

According to every source contacted by Sammamish Comment, including two City Council Members, and those from other participants in the drill, Sammamish wasn’t participating. Training is already underway with the participating agencies.

Lyman Howard, deputy city manager, told The Comment Thursday that the City will participate, activating the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in City Hall to test the City’s abilities in the drill. Others began getting notifications Thursday morning as well.

The drill, called Cascade Rising, will be June 7-10. It’s intended to plan and test local response, coordination between agencies and related activities in the event there is a major earthquake.

The scrambling began within hours of Sammamish Comment filing Public Records Requests for emails related to Cascadia Rising, an interview with Council Member Don Gerend and interview requests with Howard and City Manager Ben Yazici. Yazici referred questions to Howard.

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