Thursday, December 18, 2008

Enjoying the Snow

When the weather forecasts start getting "frightful," I'm often asked about how many hours I (Cheryl Bledsoe) will be having to work as an emergency manager. My common answer is: "well, we'll see what it brings and whether there are any significant emergencies to support."

In the Pacific Northwest, we don't get a lot of winter weather. And, it seems that when it is in the forecast, there is a rush to think that it, by itself, is going to be an emergency. However, while the wintery weather provides some enhanced response by our public works and transit agencies, we have to remember that, given the type of work that they do, responding in all sorts of weather is what they excel at and are well-trained for.

An "emergency event" by our local working definition is an event that either overwhelms emergency response resources and/or presents needs that don't have existing or clear solutions which require a coordinated, multi-agency response.

For "declared disaster" events with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), we need to see uninsured damages or overtime response costs piling up over $1 million dollars.

If we, as community members, are well-prepared for what the winter weather brings, we may experience the weather, but it may or may not create an actual "emergency" situation.

Our emergency management staff are working hard to monitor both the weather conditions and our local community for signs of trouble requiring emergency coordination. And while wintery weather requires a little more advance planning and coordination, we encourage folks to remember that it can be fun, too!

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