WWA Emergency Response Plan
This document is intended to provide an overview for members of the current ERP. The original document includes emergency phone tree numbers, which are used by first responders, not the general membership. These have been removed in this version to protect the privacy of the board members whose numbers appear there.
Home Preparation Planning
Westside Water has provided a steady supply to its customers for most of its history–our only interruptions have been from power outages in winter storms, which have been short and infrequent. In fact, our last big quake, the Nisqually quake in 2002, slightly increased the flow of water from our springs.
However, we in the Pacific Northwest need to be prepared for a large earthquake that could interrupt services of all kinds, potentially for a long period of time.
Here are some things you can do to be prepared:
Keep a supply of water stored on your property. One gallon per person per day is thought to be the minimum water requirement. For a family of four, this would be 28 gallons for one week. When you consider that normal usage for one person is something more like 140 gallons per day, you might want to store more than the minimum. Having at least one 55-gallon drum ends up being a good choice for a household, and a list of rain barrel suppliers from Seattle Public Utilities gives local sources for inexpensive containers. If you don’t have a drum, 2-liter pop containers will do. Stay away from milk containers, as those break down over time.
To make sure that your stored water is palatable and safe, keep these things in mind:
- Most rain barrels have been previously used; make sure that yours was used for food or beverage.
- Containers need to be supported so they won’t tip over in an earthquake, and should be in a spot that’s easily accessed even if there’s damage to your house.
- Stored water can accumulate bacteria and other organisms. One way to prevent this is to make sure that your storage containers are opaque and well-sealed. Also, taste-test your water at least once a year and treat it if needed with household chlorine bleach. This is a way of chlorinating your water much the same way that public utilities do. After bleaching, let the water sit tightly sealed for a day to give the bleach time to work, and when you drink the water you can get rid of the chlorine taste as you would with any other chlorinated water, by letting it sit uncovered for an hour. Don’t use bleach that has soap or other additives. Use 1/8 teaspoon of bleach (equal to about 5-8 drops) per gallon of water, or about 1/8 cup per 55-gallon drum.
Be ready to purify your own water. This may mean having a bottle of bleach set aside, or tincture of iodine, or a filtration system that doesn’t require WWA water pressure.
NERO and WWA
Neighborhood Emergency Response Organizations (NEROs) are informal groups of neighbors from five to fifteen homes, who organize to help each other in the hours and days after a minor storm or major earthquake. NERO efforts help neighborhoods, because transportation and communication may be difficult after a storm or other incident. NERO reports from neighborhoods also help our professional responders prioritize their efforts, to do the most good for the greatest number of islanders.
The Westside Water Association includes 231 households. There are a couple of established NERO groups in our district; however, most areas are not covered by a NERO group. For the purpose of contacting WWA members in a water system emergency, we have loosely organized our district into groups of 3 to 10 homes, similar to the NERO model. We hope to identify one home in each neighbor group that can serve to coordinate checking on and notifying neighbors personally in the event of a water emergency, in addition to our current protocol of district-wide notification. We hope that by implementing these neighbor groups, you can help us ensure that you and all of your neighbors are receiving current information in a water emergency.
For more information about NERO on Vashon, please visit the NERO page of Vashon Be Prepared.
Emergency Preparation Links
Vashon Be Prepared
A very helpful site provided by the Vashon Island Emergency Management Area (VIEMA), which is an Island-based organization authorized by King County, and the Vashon Disaster Preparedness Coalition (VDPC)
King County Emergency Services
Checklists for preparing for all kinds of emergencies.
FEMA Guide to Emergency Preparedness