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December 8, 1997

Front Page

City, water and fire district hold disaster exercise


Andrew Walgamott/staff photo
   Dominic Marzano, WFLSD deputy chief (center), and Ron Cameron,Ray Sturtz (right) city emergency coordinator participate in a disaster training exercise last week.

     by Andrew Walgamott
   WOODINVILLE--With flooding and power outages crippling downtown Woodinville, and icy roads closing down I-405 indefinitely, city, water and fire district officials gathered in the Emergency Operations Center to manage a mounting disaster last Thursday morning. It was all part of an joint training exercise held by the Woodinville Fire and Life Safety District, Woodinville Water District staff and City of Woodinville department directors held at the EOC set up at WFLSD Station 31 last week. The group practiced routing information by dispatching crews to open shelters for employees trapped in the business district and clear clogged drains even as landslides crashed onto major thoroughfares and the media clamored for news and photo-ops.
   WFLSD Deputy Chief Dominic Marzano said it was important for all agencies to be on the same page in case of such an event because "disasters have no border lines." "If we don't practice and play together, we won't work well when the disaster strikes," Marzano said of the hands-on exercise. "The primary purpose was to bring city staff up to speed with better knowledge and skills to manage in the EOC," he said adding that "last December was a great example of a snow and water problem-a declared disaster across the state." After heavy snows between Christmas and New Years', a warm southerly wind brought downpours which led to building collapses and urban flooding locally, and across the state. "Luckily it occurred on a holiday and not a work day," Marzano said.
   Ray Sturtz, Woodinville's planning director and disaster response coordinator, said by state law the city was responsible for emergency response. "We have resources and the fire district has resources; we need to pool those together to respond to the event," Sturtz said, adding that by having city staff at the EOC, firefighters would be freed to respond in the field. "Yesterday's drill could've been for an earthquake, wild fire or any number of things," Marzano said. Sturtz said that recently, the EOC was on the verge of opening after a natural gas pipeline off of Woodinville-Duvall Rd. near Saybrook spewed gas into the sky.
   In the event of a widespread disaster, Sturtz said families should plan to be self-reliant. For more information on becoming a community liason who will deliver information from neighborhood to authorities in an emergency, call Marie Stake at City Hall, 489-2700, Marzano at 483-2131, or Debbie Rannfeldt at the WWD, 483-9104.