Town Hall Meeting April 24th to Focus on Wildfire Season

“In Thurston County, wildland fire is the most frequently occurring hazard, seeing an average of 70 wildland fires per year.” So begins the County’s web page regarding how you can make your home more secure during wildfire season. We don’t think of wildfires in our part of Western Washington, but as the summers become drier it may be prudent to familiarize ourselves with some basic changes we can make in order to build a defensible space around our homes. On Wednesday, April 24th the Griffin Neighborhood Association will host a presentation by Thurston County Emergency Mangement on the topic of “Neighborhood Preparedness and Home Protection during Wildfire Season and the ‘Ready, Set, Go’ Evacuation Program.” We hope you’ll join us.

The National Fire Protection Association has created an informational program called “Firewise.” Their website contains a wealth of useful materials for homeowners in rural areas such as ours. This page, in particular, describes the concept of the “home ignition zone” as a means of describing how controlling fuels can build a natural defense protecting homes and outbuildings from wildfire.

Click the image for a larger version.

There are three zones radiating out at distances of zero to five feet, five to 30 feet, and 30 to 100 feet from the home. The space within five feet – the “immediate zone” – is the non-combustible area. “Science tells us this is the most important zone to take immediate action on as it is the most vulnerable to embers.”

From five to 30 feet, tree spacing and creating breaks in lower vegetation provides the greatest benefit.

Beyond 30 feet, “the goal here is not to eliminate fire but to interrupt fire’s path and keep flames smaller and on the ground.”

For more details about these three zones, click here.

Firewise is on Facebook, too.

At this month’s Town Hall meeting, Vivian Eason, Emergency Management Coordinator for Thurston County Emergency Management, will also speak about the County’s evacuation plan.

One important step you can take to help in an evacuation is to sign up for emergency alerts and notifications. Click this link for more information about the kinds of alerts available and to sign up.

Town Hall Meeting: “Neighborhood Preparedness and Home Protection during Wildfire Season and the ‘Ready, Set, Go’ Evacuation Program”
Wednesday, April 24
6:30 PM
Griffin Fire Department Headquarters

A wealth of information about preparing for a variety of disasters is available on the Thurston County Emergency Management website.

If this information is valuable to you, and you would like to see more like it, please join the Griffin Neighborhood Association. If you own property, a business, or reside in the Griffin area, you are eligible to become a member of the Griffin Neighborhood Association. Click here for more information and to join online. Thank you! from the GNA.

Thurston County Unveils Emergency Alert System


Click to sign up for AlertSense notifications

Thurston County Emergency Management now makes available to all residents a system to send emergency alerts via text message, email, pager, or voice mail (in extreme cases), based on your preferences. “It is important that we collect this contact information because many households no longer utilize traditional land-based telephone lines,” reads one web page describing the system’s function.

This new notification capability – called the “AlertSense Notification System” – joins several other means available for the County to help keep the public apprised of hazardous conditions in our area.

Emergency Alert System (EAS) alerts are broadcast on television, radio and NOAA weather radios. The alerts begin with a loud audible beep followed by specific instructions. You are also probably aware of AMBER alerts you can already receive through a smartphone. River flood notifications are available for public sign up, too. The new AlertSense system will help to provide localized information to you, using your preferred method(s) of contact.

The [AlertSense] system is intended to be used for emergency alerts, as well as non-emergency incidents that may have significant impacts to residents. Emergency Alerts could be related to specific hazards that require some kind of action be taken such as evacuation, shelter in place, boil water orders, etc. Non-emergency alerts could include significant transportation problems with prolonged impacts or significant ongoing police or fire activity. This list is not meant to be all inclusive, and demonstrates that this system will not be used for routine information. In addition to receiving information on your wireless device, you may also receive notification on your land telephone line (if you have one) depending on the type of incident or event.

Click here to learn more about the different means by which you can receive information about hazardous conditions in the area and how you can sign up for AlertSense.

Don’t forget this Saturday’s Emergency Preparedness Expo, at the Rochester Middle School.

Emergency Preparedness Expo
Saturday, September 17
10 AM – 3 PM
Rochester Middle School
9937 US Hwy 12, Rochester

For more information about the Expo, contact Vivian Eason, Thurston County Emergency Management, at 360-867-2825 or

September is National Preparedness Month. There are easy steps you can take to help your family weather an emergency. And there are important steps you can take to help you and your neighbors make it through a disaster. Click here to learn more.

Life at the End of the Powerline

Downed Powerlines

Click the image for Puget Sound Energy's "downed power lines" web page.

Part of the charm of living on the Steamboat Island Peninsula is that it only takes 20 minutes to drive from the City to the wilderness. It means a lot to most people to throw your window open at night and listen to the oyster boats or the wind. I am in awe of the way eagles soar over our peninsula.

However, in the middle of cold and violent storms sometimes the lights go out. It can be out for less than an hour or up to 5 days or more! What should a homeowner do?

#1 Relax.

#2 Get, your flashlight with fresh batteries.

#3 Light your candles or oil lamp.

#4 Tune to any of these FM stations: KGY 95.3, KAYO 96.9, or KAOS 89.3. KGY, in particular, has a good backup generator.

#5 Bundle up with a loved one and read a book.

If it turns out that the outage was not caused by a drunk driver hitting a pole on Mud Bay drive, get emotionally prepared for life off the grid for a while.

Consider the following:

  • Fire up your generator a few hours in the evening if you need a little heat from your electric fireplace.
  • Use a couple cups of your 50 gallons of emergency water supply for a sponge bath if you smell.
  • Cook a meal or 3 on your propane BBQ.
  • Dig into your no-cook food for a snack.
  • Stay warm and healthy and go to work tomorrow if the roads are passable.
  • If you are trapped, read a couple good books and huddle up with someone you love.

by James Nugent


James Nugent is a local author and has 96 e-books, 90 paperbacks and 53 audio books on For more information about survival, find Eight Things You Need to Survive by James Nugent.

September is National Preparedness Month. Visit our preparedness web page, for tips on how to prepare your family and your neighbors.

“30 Days 30 Ways” Kicks Off September Emergency Preparedness Month

cropped-cropped-cropped-30days11“30 Days, 30 Ways” is a disaster preparedness game that started in 2010 in Vancouver, Washington. It’s an easy way to use September (Emergency Preparedness Month) to get your home and neighborhood prepared for an emergency or disaster*. Each day the web site at have a different emergency preparedness theme and a daily winner will be selected from among the participants. You can also follow along on Facebook or Twitter.

Sure, it’s a game, but here in rural Thurston County, we know preparedness is no laughing matter. Each day’s activities highlights an important step you can easily take to become better equipped to weather out anything from an extended electrical power outage to The Big One we know is going to come, someday.

On Saturday, September 17, Thurston County Emergency Management will present it’s annual Emergency Preparedness Expo. This year it’s at the Rochester Middle School. This free event is a terrific way to hear speakers and meet with vendors with information about preparedness.

emergency expo flyer

Click to download the event flyer.

Emergency Preparedness Expo
Saturday, September 17
10 AM – 3 PM
Rochester Middle School
9937 US Hwy 12, Rochester

For more information about the Expo, contact Vivian Eason, Thurston County Emergency Management, at 360-867-2825 or email

On Thursday, September 15, Thurston County Emergency Management will present a free class on “Map Your Neighborhood.” Map Your Neighborhood (MYN) is a program designed to help neighborhoods prepare for disasters. According to their web page, MYN will help you to:

  • Learn the 9 steps to take immediately following a disaster to secure your home and protect your neighborhood.
  • Create a neighborhood map identifying locations of natural gas and propane tanks.
  • Create a contact list that helps identify those with specific needs such as elderly, disabled or children who may be home alone during certain hours of the day.
  • Identify the skills and equipment each neighbor has that would be useful in effective disaster response.
  • Work together as a team to evaluate your neighborhood during the first hour following a disaster and take the necessary actions.

Map Your Neighborhood
Thursday, September 15
6 PM – 7:30 PM
Tumwater Fire Department
311 Israel Rd. SW, Tumwater

Please RSVP at

Click here for more information about this class. Or contact Vivian Eason, Thurston County Emergency Management, at 360-867-2825 or email

When an emergency strikes, you’re going to be glad you planned ahead. When disaster strikes, you’re going to be glad if both you and your neighbors have planned ahead.

*What’s the difference between an “emergency” and a “disaster”? Click here to check out our own disaster preparedness page, for the answer.

Annual Community Meeting – January 28 at 6:00 PM

If the entire Cascadia Subduction zone gives way at once, an event that seismologists call a full-margin rupture, the magnitude will be somewhere between 8.7 and 9.2.

Kenneth Murphy, who directs FEMA’s Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, says, “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”

In the Pacific Northwest, the area of impact will cover some hundred and forty thousand square miles, including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem (the capital city of Oregon), Olympia (the capital of Washington), and some seven million people. When the next full-margin rupture happens, that region will suffer the worst natural disaster in the history of North America. Roughly three thousand people died in San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake. Almost two thousand died in Hurricane Katrina. Almost three hundred died in Hurricane Sandy. FEMA projects that nearly thirteen thousand people will die in the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. Another twenty-seven thousand will be injured, and the agency expects that it will need to provide shelter for a million displaced people, and food and water for another two and a half million.

— From The Really Big One, published July 20, 2015 in The New Yorker

In September, Thoughts Turn to Emergency Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness Expo

Click for a larger view.

Tennyson wrote, “In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” It’s fall now and the thoughts of residents in the Pacific Northwest turn to winter preparedness. This year, in addition to checking the wood supply and tuning up the generator, why not spend a little time preparing for something more than just winter? On Saturday, September 26, Thurston County Emergency Management is hosting its annual Emergency Preparedness Expo. This is a great opportunity to meet with equipment vendors and local agencies who are planning not only for winter, but for something far more challenging.

Emergency Preparedness Expo
Saturday, September 26, 20155
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Yelm High School

Here on the Steamboat Peninsula, we’re used to preparing for a few days without electricity or a few days with limited access to nearby cities. In a disaster, though, we know we’ll need to be prepared for one, two, or three weeks on our own. The Emergency Preparedness Expo is a great one-stop solution to address planning and equipment needs.

Our own disaster preparedness web page provides a wealth of information to assist in preparing your own home for something more difficult than an emergency. Our web page goes a step further, too. Disaster preparedness requires a plan that includes working with some of your neighbors a block or two in any direction from your home. Our web page includes tips and links to other resources you can use to plan with your neighbors for “the big one.”

In February, 2001, a landslide took out a section of US-101 and residents had to travel through McCleary to get from Olympia to the Steamboat Peninsula. A big earthquake is not only likely to take out bridges on US-101 in both directions, it’s expected a good sized quake would cut off portions of this peninsula as Steamboat Island Road, itself, could be made impassable.

September is National Preparedness Month. Don’t be caught off-guard. The Emergency Preparedness Expo is a great way to start your planning.

What can we learn from the Earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand?

Area residents cannot help but think, upon hearing news of earthquakes elsewhere along the Pacific Rim, that it’s just a matter of time before something like that happens here. Recently, The Olympian ran an article entitled “Sooner or later, a massive quake will hit Pacific Northwest.” About 6 weeks ago, the Griffin Neighborhood Association undertook an effort to rework its disaster preparedness web page, in order to provide a concise set of information. Click here for that web page, which presents information both for families who just want to beef up their preparedness plans and for neighbors who want to work with other neighbors, to craft a more comprehensive approach to disaster planning.

Damage in Japan from earthquake and tsunami

What can we learn from the Earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand?

1. Be Prepared in advance-expect the worst. The level of damage they experienced was difficult to contemplate. Their quakes were a magnitude 7 and magnitude 9. History says we could experience a quake of up to magnitude 9. This fact alone means that all households should have an emergency stock of survival items. Stocks of clothing must include planning for all types of weather.

2. Given certain geological conditions, a tsunami is a potential threat with any earthquake. Often, they are more destructive than the originating earthquake. Note the newspaper headlines after the earthquake in Japan, Northwest and Japan have similar quake and tsunami vulnerabilities.

3. Even though both countries were recognized as well prepared, acute shortages of water, food and gasoline developed within 24 hours. Try to keep all vehicles as fully fueled as possible.

4. Don’t run out of buildings. The amount of rubble should make it clear that you don’t want to leave a building until the shaking and falling have subsided. Move to previously planned safe areas of the building. Become familiar with the angles of survival concept. Move away from windows.

5. Expect major infrastructure failure- roads may be blocked, underground  pipes  (water, septic, gas or propane) may be compromised.

Damage in Christchurch, New Zealand

6. Expect further damage from subsequent after-shocks. Put on safety equipment and, when it is safe, move to open areas. If possible move vehicles to open areas. They may be your temporary home.

7. Maintain an emergency supply of cash on hand.

8. Minimize the use of cell phones. In all likelihood, mobile networks will be compromised with overuse. More importantly, we saw for the first time trapped victims using their cell phones and other electronic devices to lead rescuers to them. Preserve the network for emergency purposes. Texting as a form of communication places the least burden on mobile networks.

9. When things have calmed down place a call to your out-of-area contact and brief them on your status. The Griffin Fire Department has a supply of out-of-area contact forms. We saw the anxiety of family members across the world waiting for news on the status of loved ones.

10. Support your neighbors, particularly those with special needs. There are existing programs and information referenced on this web site to help neighborhoods organize.

– Norm Johnson

Emergency Preparedness Expo, October 9

Take Winter by Storm!

Emergency Preparedness Expo
Saturday, October 9
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
St. Martin’s University
Marcus Pavilion & Worthington Center
5300 Pacific Avenue SE, Lacey

Click here to download a copy of the flyer

Event Speakers Include:

• Willie Scott, U.S. Geological Survey – Thurston County’s Exposure to Volcano Hazards
• Ted Buehner, National Weather Service – Preparing for this Winter’s Weather
• William Steele, Pacific NW Seismic Network – Local Seismic (Earthquake) Hazards

Vendors, Information & Displays

* 2-1-1
* American Red Cross – Emergency Preparedness Information and Supplies
* CAPCOM 9-1-1
* Cabela’s
* Cascades Volcano Hazards – USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory
* Community Emergency Response Team Training Information
* Crisis Clinic Resource Network
* Department of Ecology – NFIP Floodplain Education
* Emergency Medical Training Associates (EMTA) – CPR and First Aid Resources
* – Seasonal Flu Shots Available for a fee
* J & I Power Equipment
* K-9 Demos by Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, Lacey and Olympia Police
* Knight Fire
* Lacey Fire District #3
* National Weather Service
* Office of the Insurance Commissioner
* Olympia Fire Department – Jaws of Life
* Prepaid Legal Services
* Puget Sound Energy – Electrical Safety Demonstration
* Quake Ready
* St. Martin’s Athletics Food Booth
* St. Martin’s University
* The Olympian
* Thurston County Amateur Radio Emergency Services / Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (ARES/RACES)
* Thurston County CAPCOM 9-1-1
* Thurston County Emergency Management Council – Local Preparedness and Hazards Information
* Thurston County Environmental Health
* Thurston County Long Term Recovery Organization (LTRO)
* Thurston County Medic One
* Thurston County Search & Rescue Council
* Thurston County Sheriff’s Office – Child Identification, Iris Scanning
* Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team Information
* Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Fraud Section – Identity Theft Protection
* Tumwater Fire Department
* University of Washingon Pacific NW Seismic Network
* The Volunteer Center – Volunteer Recruitment
* Washington State Animal Response Team (WASART)
* West Thurston Fire
* Wholesale Sports USA
* WSU Extension – Germ City
* Fun, Family-Friendly Exhibits!

For More Information Contact Vivian Eason, Thurston County Emergency Management at 360-786-5243 or email

Click here for this even’t information page and for a list of sponsors.

Click here for the Thurston County Emergency Management Homepage.

Numbers Your Cell Phone Can’t Live Without

Here are some ideas as to numbers everyone’s cell phone ought to have.

Emergency – 911

Griffin Fire Department – (360) 866-9000 (this is a non-emergency phone number)

Thurston County Sheriff – (360) 786-5500 (this is a non-emergency phone number)

Capital Hospital – (360) 754-5858 (this is a non-emergency phone number)

Puget Sound Energy – (888) 225-5773 (available 24 hours a day)

Poison Control – (800) 222-1222

Animal Control – (360) 352-2510

Thurston County Roads (For dead deer pick-up) – (360) 786-5495

Your next door neighbors.

If you use propane, your propane provider.

Your doctor and child’s pediatrician.

A local tow truck company. Bayside Towing (360-455-1314), Summit Towing (360-754-8858‎) and Howard’s Towing (360-943-6644) are suggestions.

Your auto insurance carrier

Steamboat Annie’s at (360) 866-2274, for a quick bite to eat, and Character’s Corner (360) 866-9904 to find out if the oysters are fresh, tonight.

What are your must-have cell phone numbers? Click “Comments” below and add your suggestions.

Emergency Flood Response Management Training

Washington State Citizen Corps is sponsoring an Emergency Flood Response Management training course.

Emergency Flood Response Management
November 14, 2009, 10:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M.
Holiday Beach Community Center
26100 N. Highway 101, Hoodsport, Washington 98548

Description: Tens of millions of dollars are spent every year on emergency flood and bank protection measures throughout the Western United States to protect critical infrastructure and property, such as roads, pipelines, levees, and residences. This course provides tools for assessing the magnitude and extent of flood emergencies, and provides a number of rapid response protection measures that can be implemented by community groups and/or volunteers.

Participants will be involved in physical activity and be expected to participate in the various scenarios. Please dress appropriately for the weather and consider personal protection, including but not limited to gloves, raingear, warm clothing, sturdy work shoes, etc.

Course Topics:

Introduction to Emergency Flood Response
– Safety considerations
– Incident Command Systems (ICS)
– Response vs. Recovery

Emergency Delineations:
– Site triage and prioritization
– Hazard area reconnaissance
– River process assessment

Risk Analysis: Property, Infrastructure
– Road washouts
– Pipeline exposure
– Bridge scour
– Dam breaks
– Hazard Areas

Action Alternatives:
– Short-term vs. Long-term
– Typical Designs
– Prioritization

Rapid Response Tool Box

Regulatory Compliance

Field Exercise


Registration: To register for this free training, please contact Denise Mack, Washington State Citizen Corps Coordinator at 360-725-5290 or via e-mail at

Pre-registration is required.