On a day that included a flood warning in Yakima, the termination of the Hanford Nuclear Site’s emergency status, and a 3.4 magnitude earthquake off of Whidbey Island, the Lt. Governor spent Thursday afternoon touring the Emergency Operations Center of Washington’s Emergency Management Division (EMD) and discussing strategies for ensuring public safety.
The EMD, based out of Camp Murray and administered by the Washington Military Department, monitors and responds to potential crises in the state. EMD leaders, including the Director and Deputy Director of the Emergency Management Division, the Washington State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Supervisor, the Washington Military Department Director & Adjutant General, and other critical staff, spent the afternoon briefing the Lt. Governor on challenges and potential improvements for the future of Washington’s emergency and disaster response system.
Washington’s Lt. Governor plays an active role in facilitating our state’s emergency response system and developing its disaster readiness capability. The Lt. Governor serves as a member of the Resilient Washington subcabinet, the core mission of which is to improve Washington’s natural disaster preparedness for eventualities like floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires, and major storms. When the Governor is out of the state or incapacitated, the Lt. Governor takes his place as Acting Governor. In these times, the Lt. Governor may issue the formal emergency proclamations the Governor’s Office would normally release in order to communicate critical safety information to the public.
EMD leaders and staff noted that in emergency or disaster situations, vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children, or those with disabilities are typically most at risk. The Lt. Governor emphasized his commitment to improving communications with those populations, so that all Washingtonians are well-informed on preparation practices and aware of potentially life-saving resources.
Due to Washington’s geographic location and unique landscape, emergencies and disasters here are more common than in other states. Since 1956, there have been 136 Federal Declarations, and every county in the state has experienced varying degrees of disaster.
Despite the prevalence of disaster events in the region, however, Washington has been a resilient fixture in the Northwest. The Lt. Governor’s Office will continue to work with the EMD and its partner agencies to enhance current practices, and to support upcoming programs to better serve the public.