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Suquamish, other agencies rehearse quake response

TSA agents ran a mock disaster relief simulation in the parking lot of Suquamish’s House of Awakened Culture Thursday. The Tribe is partnering with Homeland Security, the state and the county on an earthquake response program.  - Megan Stephenson / Herald
TSA agents ran a mock disaster relief simulation in the parking lot of Suquamish’s House of Awakened Culture Thursday. The Tribe is partnering with Homeland Security, the state and the county on an earthquake response program.
— image credit: Megan Stephenson / Herald

SUQUAMISH — There is a fault line in Puget Sound that runs from Bainbridge Island through the Suquamish reservation. But if an earthquake hits, fear not — Suquamish’s House of Awakened Culture has been designated a Community Point of Distribution, a site to help the surrounding community respond and recover from a disaster.

Agents from Homeland Security, Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management and the Suquamish Tribe held a regional disaster response exercise Thursday morning. Its purpose was to practice distributing federal supplies to local communities.

Michael Adams of the county’s Incident Management Team said the drill was to practice distributing supplies to 5,000 people after a 6.7 magnitude earthquake along the Seattle fault line.

“It’s a way to connect face-to-face, to work with our partners and establish common goals,” he said. Besides, practice makes perfect — “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

Cherrie May, Suquamish’s emergency management coordinator, said Adams approached her when the state began the Evergreen Earthquake Exercise program last week. The quake exercise program is a series of three exercises to test the response and recovery capability of local, state, federal and tribal governments within the eight-county Puget Sound metro area — functional exercise to examine response plans, logistics exercise to coordinate disaster relief supplies, and recovery tabletop to evaluate housing and cleanup needs.

Other regional areas are being tested — other distribution points are in Snohomish and Thurston counties, and the federal medical station is at the Puyallup Fairgrounds.

About 25 Transportation Security Administration agents were helicoptered in from SeaTac Airport Thursday morning, and transported to the “staging area” in the parking lot of the House of Awakened Culture.

Suquamish Chairman Leonard Forsman said his departments have held internal planning in the past, and he is excited to provide service on a federal level to tribal membership and other reservation residents.

“It’s important for [tribal members] to know what to do. It increases their comfort zone.”

 

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