natural disasters

Yakima Valley Emergency Management Office

If a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami hit Washington state, people in the central and eastern parts of the state would not be the hardest hit, but survival would not be a walk in the park either. That’s why emergency organizers east of the Cascade Mountains are preparing to handle that kind of disaster. 

Tsunami warning sirens wailed up and down the Washington coast Thursday. Students, businesses and medical workers drilled for an earthquake and tsunami as part of an annual event called "The Great Shakeout."

Niranjan Shrestha / Associated Press

Lawrence Pintak, dean of WSU’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, reports from neighboring Pakistan that the earthquake creates special dangers for Nepal’s children.

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“The babies are safe.” That was the good news that greeted me Saturday after a 24 hour flight from Seattle to South Asia. While I was in the air, Nepal had been devastated by the earthquake.

“The babies” were the kids at a Kathmandu orphanage where my 20-year old daughter volunteered last fall. She had planned to go back this month. Luckily she didn’t.

Altaf Qadri / Associated Press

Around the world this weekend, all eyes were on Nepal. But nowhere more so than on the Indian sub-continent. Lawrence Pintak reports from Islamabad.

Oregon lawmakers are turning their attention to earthquake and tsunami preparedness.

Oregon State University

Winter storms off the Oregon and Washington coastlines are expected to bring a new wave of debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan. Scientists say objects are already washing ashore – with potentially invasive organisms riding along.

We're Staying In Oso, But Every Day We Say Goodbye

Sep 26, 2014
Aileen Imperial / KCTS

Ron Thompson was known as the mayor of Steelhead Drive. He and his wife Gail Thompson lost their home and many neighbors in the Oso landslide. But they’ve decided to stay in Oso, and start over in a new home just four miles from the old one. They find hope in rebuilding their community while striving to find meaning in the disaster.

Read the Thompsons' story on Medium. 

In Oso, Being Mayor Is Now A Full-Time Job

Sep 23, 2014
Aileen Imperial / KCTS

Darrington Mayor Dan Rankin grew up in this small town, like his father and his father before him. Though he moved away when he was younger, Rankin felt he had to move back. The town, he says, is something you can't get out of your soul.

KUOW and KCTS 9 collaborated to produce this series.

After Oso, Reborn From Water And Mud

Sep 22, 2014
Stacey Jenkins / KCTS

Robin Youngblood cherished the nature around her home in Oso’s Steelhead Haven. When the landslide struck, she and a visiting friend were talking about a deer they had just seen. After the disaster, she left the Oso area. But something called her back. Now she lives a stone’s throw from state Route 530, a few miles east of the slide. You can hear that story below.

Aero Icarus / Flickr

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines plans to launch five more jets Friday to evacuate American vacationers from Los Cabos, Mexico. A hurricane slammed the resort area at the beginning of this week. Since then, there have been reports of looting, no water and electricity, and food shortages. Airlifts to get stranded tourists out of there started Wednesday and ramped up Thursday. Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Halley Knigge greeted the first wave of arrivals in Los Angeles.

Alaska Airlines

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines is dispatching jets today to evacuate American vacationers from Los Cabos, Mexico. Baja California is still reeling from the direct hit by Hurricane Odile at the beginning of this week.

Sal Asaro

Hunkered low on the front deck of a yurt are two 20-somethings. The hut is plopped in the middle of a winding mountain canyon in Washington’s Methow Valley near the town of Twisp.

Washington Oso Commission Visits Slide Area

Aug 22, 2014
U.S. Geological Survey / Flickr

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's landslide commission began its work Friday with a visit to the site of the deadly Oso landslide.

Wildfires Still Rage Amid Mudslides In Central Wash.

Aug 22, 2014
InciWeb

The National Weather Service said slow-moving storms creeping through Central Washington could bring another round of mudslides this evening yet the same wildfires that stripped the hillsides and left them prone to slides continue to burn. Remaining crews are now dealing with both fires and flooding.

Comic Book Aims For Earthquake Preparedness

Aug 22, 2014
Dark Horse Comics

Emergency managers in Oregon have a new tool to educate the public about earthquake preparedness. It's a comic book co-produced by one of the nation's top comic book publishers.

Aaron Dunlap started Friday morning with his car stuck in sand and a fish stuck in the dirt outside his cannabis farm. Dunlap is one of many people stuck digging themselves out today after landslides and flash floods near Twisp, Washington.

US Highway 12 Open After Mudslide

Aug 14, 2014
Washington State Department of Transportation

U.S. Highway 12 in Washington reopens after a large mudslide yesterday . State workers are concerned about more possible slides there.

Courtney Flatt / Northwest News Network

The most destructive wildfire currently burning in the Northwest has left thousands of people without air conditioning and refrigeration. It’s closed most gas stations and shut down ATMs in north-central Washington. Okanogan County currently estimates 150 to 200 homes burned to the ground. The County Utility District says its electrical system is almost a complete loss. Meanwhile, in Brewster last night, incident commanders of the region’s biggest and most destructive wildfire briefed residents Sunday night. Correspondent Courtney Flatt spoke with residents who are coping without power, and reports from that tense Brewster meeting.

Washington Department of Ecology

A new wave of suspected debris from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan is washing up on Northwest shores. The latest noteworthy object to arrive, a large skiff coated with sea life, was found Thursday near Moclips, Wash.

Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction

The Oso landslide appears to rank as the third deadliest natural disaster in Washington history – after the 1910 Stevens Pass avalanche and the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens. But what if there had been a school in the path of the debris field? A new hazard report from the state shows dozens of Washington schools potentially sit in slide zones. But at least one of those schools doesn’t have to worry.

Holmes Elementary in Spokane is about three blocks from the Spokane River. The new report says it’s one of 28 Washington schools near a slope with a high risk of failure.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, libraries in New York helped the storm's victims turn a new page. Librarians helped thousands of people fill out relief forms, connect to the Internet and make plans to rebuild.

The New Dorp branch of the New York Public Library in Staten Island wasn't damaged during Sandy. But just a few blocks away, houses were inundated with as much as 16 feet of water. And days after the storm, many of the library's patrons still lacked the most basic services.

Goldendale Area Wildfire Grows Over Weekend

Jul 29, 2013
Anna King

Over the weekend the wildfire burning near Goldendale, in southeast Washington, grew to more than 17,000 acres. Firefighters are battling flames in grass, brush and timber. So far, no homes have burned, but the fire has closed a highway that runs between the towns of Toppenish and Goldendale. The blaze called the Mile Marker 28 fire is moving toward the town of Bickelton, Washington and is about 25 percent contained. More than 1,200 firefighters are working about 78 miles of fire line. Steve Derry is a fire crew chief. He was just getting ready to head back out.

USGS

The earthquake and tsunami threat to the Northwest from the offshore Cascadia fault was in the news in multiple ways Thursday. Canadian researchers have reconstructed a prehistoric record of great earthquakes on that shared fault. It reconfirms that we're due for another Big One. Coincidentally in Oregon, tsunami preparedness is getting a renewed look.

Where you are in Idaho will determine your wildfire risk this summer. Fire officials gave their predictions Tuesday on what fire seasons will be like around the state. If you’re in southern Idaho you shouldn’t see the type of catastrophic wildfires we had last year.

Photo by Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

An Idaho legislative committee Tuesday approved a bill to encourage teams of ranchers who would volunteer to fight rangeland fires. EarthFix reporter Aaron Kunz explains.

Six months ago Tuesday, Jan 8, a lightning strike ignited one of the largest fires in Oregon’s history. Amelia Templeton of Earthfix reports, ranchers who lost cattle and grazing land still haven’t received federal disaster aid.

Photo by Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Most of the tsunami warning sirens in one Oregon coastal county will go silent in the New Year. Communities up and down the West Coast are phasing in more modern forms of emergency alerts. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

Lull Or Tail End Of Japanese Tsunami Debris?

Dec 6, 2012
Photo by Tom Banse

It’s been more than four months since the last confirmed piece of Japanese tsunami debris washed ashore on the Pacific Northwest coast. Even sightings of suspected disaster debris have tapered way off in recent months. Does that mean we’re just in a lull or past the worst of it? Correspondent Tom Banse reports from the coast.

A fire that burned roughly 250 acres in Mason County last week has been put out. Now biologists are concerned about the potential impacts on local salmon runs. Ashley Ahearn reports for EarthFix.

Residents Report Central Washington Smells Like Smoke

Sep 13, 2012
Photo by user Teresia / Flickr

The smell of smoke hangs in the air across much of central Washington Wednesday. At least four significant wildfires are burning around Wenatchee, making the skies hazy. Vicky Cibcki works at the Anjou Bakery near the town of Cashmere.

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