2013 was a year without a major severe weather emergency or natural disaster affecting our county. Although the majority of the country felt the wrath of Mother Nature at one point or another during this past year, Grays Harbor remained relatively unscathed. According to Grays Harbor County Emergency Management, “While this is extremely fortunate, it also creates an atmosphere where many citizens and elected officials begin to believe certain disaster events won’t or can’t happen here.”
Since the major storm and flooding of 2007, Grays Harbor has only had two significant weather events. One in 2009 when the Chehalis River flooded and again in 2012 when many parts of the county received up to 18 inches of ice and snow, closing county offices for two days.
The longer the time span between severe weather events, the more that concern towards preparation wanes with citizens. Preliminary results from a Citizen Expectation Survey conducted this summer in Grays Harbor indicate citizens, and local governments are not prepared for a large scale event. The survey suggests public education by local government on disaster preparation specific to their location in the county has diminished significantly. There is also an indication most citizens do not have a family plan for disaster, and those who do, are not sure what to include in their plan which may lead them to believe they are more prepared than they actually are for a large disaster event.
Emergency Management urges all citizens to become better educated on severe weather and natural disasters which will impact you at home, at work and your child’s school. Work toward creating a Family Disaster Plan and prepare Go Kits for each member of the family including your pets in the event you must evacuate your home, workplace or school.
To assist citizens in getting the most current information prior to and during any severe weather and natural disaster event, Emergency Management provides the Grays Harbor County Notification System, where residents receive a phone call, text message and e-mail alerting you prior to the onset of severe weather.
To sign up for notifications, visit http://www.co.grays-harbor.wa.us/info/DEM/EMailTWS.asp