A four-day earthquake preparedness exercise kicked off this morning as emergency preparedness officials responded to a fake 9.0 magnitude quake and tsunami off the Oregon Coast.
The drill, the largest ever conducted in the Pacific Northwest, will bring together roughly 20,000 people from federal, state and local levels in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, along with tribal governments and multiple branches of the military.
“It’s an unprecedented scale for us to work with the civilians this closely and across so many counties and local jurisdictions,” said Washington National Guard Lt. Col. Clayton Braun.
Members of the National Guard set up operations on Vashon Island Monday to prepare for the planned 8 a.m. quake. Military watercraft left Commencement Bay Monday afternoon carrying supplies to the island.
Island residents will work with the guard to simulate what would happen if the island experienced major damage after a real earthquake.
Other training exercises during this week include:
▪ Army and Navy service members using Naval Magazine Indian Island near Port Townsend to practice transferring supplies over the water, then shore.
▪ The Guard setting up a supplemental support base at the Mason County Fairgrounds to practice dropping and loading supplies from the air.
▪ Dedication of a new tsunami evacuation center in Westport, which will include hoisting someone from the tsunami shelter.
▪ Guard members practicing cleanup of a fake toxic industrial chemical hazardous material spill in Port Angeles, including wearing suits to decontaminate people.
Pierce County emergency management officials will join the exercise Wednesday. They’ll come in with the assumption roads are damaged, neighborhoods are isolated and people need help. They’re response will be handled at the county’s emergency operations center at 2501 S. 35th St. in Tacoma.
This story originally appeared on TheNewsTribune.com.