FEMA Honors Achievement in Community Preparedness to the Ocosta School District Community

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today announced the winners of the 2014 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Awards, recognizing the outstanding efforts of individuals, programs and organizations throughout the country working to prepare their communities for emergencies.

The community of the Ocosta School District was recognized with an Honorable Mention in the Community Preparedness Heroes category – “In recognition of your service to the whole community, the Federal Emergency Management Agency hereby awards you an honorable mention in the 2014 Individual and Community Preparedness Awards.”

“Strong emergency management requires teamwork, community engagement, innovation and strong relationships at all levels before disasters occur,” FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said. “This year, we recognize individuals and organizations that exemplify this approach, and I congratulate them on their dedication to make our nation stronger and safer.”

This year’s honorees developed and implemented innovative tools, programs and resources, which provided opportunities for a wide variety of stakeholders to make their communities better prepared and more resilient.

 

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The community of the Ocosta School District, encompassing the entire South Beach area of Grays Harbor County and Pacific County, should be proud of their vision and accomplishment to build the first Tsunami Engineered Safe Haven Building in North America, the Ocosta Elementary School. This historic achievement is a testament to every community member. The new elementary school will stand as a beacon for all communities, large and small, showing what determination, perseverance, compassion and pure grit can accomplish. This could never have been realized without the overwhelming support, effort and foresight of every community member. Congratulations to each and every one of you! – Chuck Wallace, Deputy Director of the Grays Harbor County Emergency Management Agency

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Phil Anderson to resign at end of year

After nearly six years at the helm, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Director Phil Anderson has informed the state Fish and Wildlife Commission he will resign from his position, effective Dec. 31.

“Deciding when to move on is a difficult decision,” Anderson said. “But after 20 great years with the department, the time is right for me to step aside. I will leave knowing that the talented people I have had the privilege to work with here at WDFW are fully capable of taking on the challenges that lie ahead.”

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for WDFW, will begin the recruitment process for a new director in the next few weeks.

“Phil has done a tremendous job leading the department through some difficult and challenging issues over the past several years,” said Miranda Wecker, chair of the commission. “His strong conservation ethic, dedication to sound fiscal management and expertise in intergovernmental relations have greatly benefitted the department and the state’s fish and wildlife resources it protects and manages.”

As director, Anderson guided the department through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. During the unprecedented budget shortfall, state General Fund support for WDFW declined by nearly $50 million – 45 percent – threatening department operations and fishing and hunting opportunities throughout the state.

To address the shortfall, Anderson and his staff worked to restructure the agency while continuing to provide key services and maintain a high conservation standard for Washington’s fish and wildlife. As part of that effort, WDFW worked closely with stakeholders to develop new revenue streams and reduce the department’s reliance on the state General Fund.

Also under Anderson’s leadership, the department developed a plan to guide state conservation and management of gray wolves as they recolonize in Washington – a controversial issue that has evoked strong reactions from people on both sides of the Cascade Range.

The department implemented the plan in 2011, after working closely with a number of citizen advisors, including those representing conservationists, hunters and livestock producers. The plan establishes clear recovery objectives for gray wolves, along with procedures for addressing predation on livestock and impacts on ungulates such as deer, elk and caribou.

Throughout his career at WDFW, Anderson has played a leading role in working with Indian tribes in a number of forums, including the annual salmon co-management process known as North of Falcon. During this process, the state and tribes set seasons for marine and freshwater salmon fisheries throughout Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington’s coastal areas.

Anderson also has served as WDFW’s representative to the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) and serves as a commissioner on the Pacific Salmon Commission.

Over the last decade, Anderson and his team successfully maintained fishing opportunities by establishing new sustainable fisheries that allow the harvest of abundant wild stocks and hatchery-produced fish while meeting conservation objectives for wild populations listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Key to this effort has been the use of selective-fishing methods, including mark-selective fisheries that allow anglers to catch and keep abundant hatchery salmon but require that they release wild salmon. Establishing these fisheries, where appropriate, has resulted in additional harvest opportunities.

Anderson also has led WDFW’s effort to change state hatchery operations to support the recovery of wild salmon and steelhead populations.

“I am proud of the fact that we have successfully maintained fish production while reforming hatchery practices to ensure that they are compatible with efforts to rebuild wild fish populations,” Anderson said. “The job is definitely not done, but we have made tremendous strides in the right direction that bode well for the future of Washington’s fish stocks and fisheries.”

Anderson, who lives in Westport, said he plans to spend more time with his family and will look for other opportunities to contribute to resource conservation and management.

Anderson, 64, joined WDFW in 1994 after serving seven years on the PFMC as a private citizen, including as the council’s chair. Anderson was appointed WDFW director in 2009 after serving nearly nine months as the agency’s interim director. He previously served as WDFW’s deputy director for resource policy and as assistant director of the department’s Intergovernmental Resource Management Program.

Governor Jay Inslee announces steps to preserve SNAP benefits for Washington families in need

Governor Jay Inslee on Thursday announced steps to preserve Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for approximately 200,000 households in Washington. The changes will prevent the loss of nearly $70 million in federal SNAP benefits resulting from policy changes in a new Farm Bill passed by Congress.

“Governor Inslee’s decision to protect Washington families from food stamp cuts is a smart and principled decision–and it is the right thing to do by our kids. Hungry kids can’t learn. Food stamps are our number-one defense against childhood hunger,” said Jon Gould, Deputy Director of the Children’s Alliance.

A household’s SNAP benefits are calculated by factoring in a household’s eligibility for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The new Farm Bill made changes to the “Heat and Eat” option, which now requires states to provide a household $20 in LIHEAP assistance to maximize SNAP benefits. The prior law required that Washington only provide $1. Under the modified program, the Department of Social and Health Services will work with the Department of Commerce to provide $20 of LIHEAP assistance to eligible households, ensuring low-income families will remain eligible for up to $90 a month of SNAP benefits.

Washington joins seven other states in adopting this approach. This will not only help maintain economic stability for vulnerable families but for businesses in Washington, as the USDA estimates that every SNAP dollar spent generates about $2 in economic activity.

“Obviously, the loss of tens of millions of dollars aimed at feeding hungry families is not acceptable. These families have already suffered from significant reductions in the help they receive, and this $90 a month is the only way many families and seniors are able to put any food on their table. That is why my office brought together leaders from our state agencies and the community to figure out a compromise,” said Governor Inslee.

“Significant changes to the Heat and Eat option required some difficult choices for our state,” said Brian Bonlender, Director of the Washington State Department of Commerce. “Working together with our partners at DSHS, we evaluated every option and concluded that this solution is the best way to help more families fill the gap in their monthly food budget, while still providing needed financial assistance with heating bills.”

SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps) is a fully federally-funded food benefit program administered by the Department of Social and Health Services on behalf of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). LIHEAP is also fully federally-funded and is administered by the Department of Commerce. Together, the programs help nearly one in seven residents throughout the state meet their most basic needs.

DSHS is a national leader in efficient SNAP administration. It was among the first states to examine how human services are delivered and to make changes to streamline operations while maintaining excellent services to clients. Washington’s benefits accuracy rate is more than 98 percent.

“Under Governor Inslee and DSHS Secretary Kevin W. Quigley’s leadership, we were able to find a solution that does not force some of the most vulnerable families in Washington state, including elderly and disabled individuals, to choose between heating their homes and feeding their children,” said David Stillman, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services’ Economic Services Administration. “This is an important effort to ensure people are safe, healthy and supported and taxpayer resources are safeguarded.”

The state will now ask all SNAP applicants for proof of utility payments. In cases where clients have no separate utility bills, like low-income senior citizens whose rent includes utilities, clients will be enrolled in the LIHEAP program and given $20 of heating benefit. This will also qualify them for the highest utility deduction, thereby preserving higher SNAP benefits.

Chilean Tsunami not expected to impact Washington State

Chile experienced an 8.2 earthquake which resulted in tsunami waves impacting the Chilean coast about 45 minutes later. There is NO TSUNAMI THREAT to Washington State.
The Grays Harbor County Emergency Management Agency reports a tsunami wave was generated however it is likely to be undetectable as it arrives in the Westport area Wednesday morning. If even slight sea level changes are detected, it means a tsunami wave has reached Grays Harbor County.

Deputy Director Chuck Wallace adds that “those frequenting the beaches Wednesday morning for the Clam dig, please remain alert for far running waves along the beaches. No significant waves are expected, however it is prudent to remain attentive and observant.

In the harbors, a slight rise in sea level may occur. If anyone notices any sea level rise in the harbor or any indication of a very small wave (less than 1 foot) running farther up the beach, please notify Emergency Management with the time and place by calling (360) 964-1575 or e-mailing us at ghcdem@co.grays-harbor.wa.us

The Tsunami Energy Map from the Chilean Tsunami below shows how tsunami waves spread across the ocean.
The Tsunami Energy Map from the Chilean Tsunami below shows how tsunami waves spread across the ocean.

 

Trout fishing opens statewide April 26, capping off a month of ‘opening days’

For many anglers, “opening day” is synonymous with the start of the lowland lakes trout-fishing season, which gets under way April 26 this year. Hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians typically descend on trout-stocked lakes to kick off the state’s biggest outdoor event.

 

To prepare for the upcoming season, hatchery crews from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) have been working since last year to stock more than 16 million fish in hundreds of lakes throughout the state. Anglers can find how many went where at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/statewide/.

 

But anglers – and hunters, too – are also looking forward to a variety of other “opening days” this month for outdoor adventures ranging from razor clam digs on ocean beaches to turkey hunting in fields throughout the state. In addition, several Washington communities are hosting festivals this month to mark the seasonal migration of waterfowl and shorebirds.

 

“April really marks the start of the new year for fishing, hunting, and a wide range of outdoor activities,” said Joe Stohr, WDFW deputy director. “The annual cycle is beginning again and a lot of us are glad to see it arrive.”

 

For most people, a valid 2014-15 fishing or hunting license will be required to participate in those activities after March 31, when all 2013-14 licenses expire. The exception is young people under age 15, who can fish for free.

 

Licenses and permits are avaiIable online (https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/), by phone (1-866-246-9453) and from sporting goods stores and other retail license dealers around the state. A list of license vendors (http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/) is available online and from local WDFW offices around the state.

 

Key dates to keep in mind in April include:

 

April 1 – Several dozen lakes in the Columbia Basin open to fishing.

 

April 4-6 –The first Olympic Peninsula BirdFest takes place in Sequim near the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

 

April 5-6 – A two-day spring turkey hunt for hunters age 15 and younger is scheduled statewide.

 

April 14-20 – A seven-day morning razor clam dig is tentatively scheduled on various ocean beaches. For details, see WDFW’s razor clam webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html.

April 15 – The general spring turkey hunt opens for hunters of all ages and runs through May 31. See WDFW’s Washington Wild Turkey Spring Season pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/ for more information.

April 16 – Lingcod fishing season opens in the Neah Bay area (Marine Area 4).

April 25-27 – The Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival, based in Hoquiam, celebrates shorebirds. For information, see http://www.shorebirdfestival.com/.

April 26 – Hundreds of lakes open to trout fishing across the state for the biggest “opening day” of the year.

For more information about these and other outdoor activities coming up in the weeks ahead, see the region-by-region Weekender Reports on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/weekender/. These reports are updated for changes in fishing rules and other developments throughout the state.

Pacific County Emergency Management Agency Coordinating Animal Emergency Plan Workshop

South Bend, WA – The Pacific County Emergency Management Agency will be coordinating an Animal Emergency Plan Workshop on February 4, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. in the Commissioners Meeting Room at the Pacific County Annex located at 1216 W. Robert Bush Drive South Bend, WA 98586. Recent experiences from other areas around the nation have underscored the importance of having a coordinated Animal Emergency Plan. The Pacific County Emergency Management Agency has identified this as a goal for 2014.

 

The Public is welcome to attend. If you would like to have your comments heard but are unable to attend, you may email them to Scott McDougall, Deputy Director, PCEMA smcdougall@co.pacific.wa.us by the end of business on February 3, 2014.

2014 Brings Change to Pacific County Sheriff’s Office

South Bend, Washington – Pacific County Sheriff Scott Johnson announced changes to the Sheriff’s Office command staff including a retirement, promotion, and new appointment.  In November Chief Civil Deputy Debbie Allison, who has been employed by Pacific County in excess of 30 years, announced her intent to retire effective December 31, 2013.  Sheriff Johnson expressed his appreciation of Allison’s years of service and work ethic, stating that he values her attitude and principles, always treating issues as if they were her personal responsibility with the intent to work in the interest of the taxpayer and citizen safety.

 

With the retirement of Deputy Allison, Sheriff Johnson has appointed Denise Rowlett as Chief Deputy, with responsibility for civil, financial, and administration operations within the office.  Rowlett has been employed with the Sheriff’s Office for over 14 years serving as Deputy Director of Emergency Management since 2008.

 

Sheriff Johnson has appointed Scott McDougall to fill the position of Deputy Director of Emergency Management.  McDougall joins the office with previous experience in the fire service as well as Pacific County Fair Manager.

 

The Sheriff added that he wishes Allison the best in her retirement, and is looking forward to leading the command staff team with those in new roles as we approach 2014.

Incident Commanders: continuing classes offered at GHC

Grays Harbor County Emergency Management will be hosting ICS 300 & 400 at Grays Harbor College.

ICS 300 will be offered on October 23 & 24th

ICS 400 will be offered Nov. 12 & 13th.

Please click the links below for more information and to apply to the courses. Deputy Director of Emergency Management Chuck Wallace tells us “We need to meet a minimum class size to hold each class. Interest was expressed by many organizations throughout the county and we asked to sponsor the classes for your benefit. All classes are FREE!”

 

http://www.hsr3.com/Training/2013/ICS300_GHC_2013.pdf

 

http://www.hsr3.com/Training/2013/ICS400_GHC_2013.pdf

Citizen Disaster Exercise postponed

ABERDEEN, Wash. – The Citizen Disaster Exercise scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed. Deputy Director of Emergency Management Chuck Wallace confirmed a posting on facebook by the Grays Harbor Citizen Corps. It stated that due to logistical issues, the exercise at the Grays Harbor College has been postponed.
Wallace apologized for the late notice but circumstances dictate the change. The event will be held in the next month or two. All will be notified of the new date and time in the near future.

International task force to discuss protecting West Coast from oil spills

The meeting is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, in the Microsoft Auditorium at the Seattle Central Public Library, 1000 Fourth Ave. The meeting is open to the public, and will be broadcast online. RSVP with Linda Helmick – lihi461@ecy.wa.gov. 

The task force was authorized by a Memorandum of Cooperation signed in 1989 by Governors of Alaska, Oregon, Washington and California, and the Premier of British Columbia following the Exxon Valdez and Nestucca oil spills. These events highlight the common concerns regarding oil spill risks shared by West Coast states and provinces, and the need for cooperation across shared borders. 

The task force provides a forum where members can work together to implement regional initiatives to help protect 56,600 miles of coastline stretching from Alaska to California, and includes the Hawaiian archipelago. 

The task force is committed to improving, preventing, preparing for and responding to oil spills. It collects and shares data on spills, coordinates spill prevention projects, and promotes regulatory safeguards. 

Members include: 
Thomas M. Cullen Jr., Administrator, Office of Spill Prevention and Response, California Department of Fish and Wildlife 
Gary Gill, Deputy Director, Hawaii Department of Health
Larry Hartig, Commissioner, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
Dale Jensen, Spills Program Manager, Washington Department of Ecology 
Dick Pedersen, Director, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Wes Shoemaker, Deputy Minister, British Columbia Ministry of the Environment