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City of Seattle

June 15, 2:29 PM click here to comment > 2

Preparing for the next big quake

As a city located in a seismic fault zone, we are always preparing for the next big rumble here in Seattle. Our City plan for coordinating the response to a disaster, the Seattle Disaster Readiness and Response Plan, has long included earthquake planning, but since the likelihood of Seattle experiencing a seismic event is relatively high, we are working to beef up our planning for earthquake readiness.

Last week we tested our new plan, the Earthquake Incident Annex, in a large scale, two day disaster exercise called Evergreen Quake 2012. Our Emergency Operations Center was fully deployed for two days of hypothetical scenarios, including the collapse of several local bridges. We used the test as an opportunity to test out our new Earthquake Incident Annex. Lessons learned from this exercise will be incorporated into future updates to the annex.

The Earthquake Incident Annex is intended to guide responders, especially during the early phases of the response. To ensure a coordinated, effective response, the Annex defines initial response objectives, strategies and priorities. It also describes 35 planning assumptions which characterize some of the significant challenges caused by an earthquake. Some of these assumptions are:

  • Fire is the leading danger immediately following an earthquake
  • The 911 phone system, if operating, will be overwhelmed
  • Damage to water utility infrastructure may impair firefighting
  • Hospitals may not have sufficient capacity to meet the surge in patient demand

We’re working hard to ensure that Seattle is prepared to respond to a disaster, but we need the community to partner with us as well. To learn more about disasters and how to prepare should visit the Seattle Office of Emergency Management website at, or check out the Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare program to get involved in emergency planning for your community.

Posted by: Words: April Thomas, Pictures: Jen Nance


Comment from Lenny Larson
Time June 19, 2012 at 5:47 pm

While much of the infrastructure of bridges, etc.,has been strengthened,we can’t be sure of the digging of the tunnel or the tunnel itself. There is also the seawall and old brick structures that will not survive a 7 or 8 on the Richter scale

Comment from Arely
Time March 18, 2013 at 6:03 pm

what should we do to prepare for natural disasters?