The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Are You Properly Insured for Disaster?

August 29th marks the 5th anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, the most costly disaster in United States history. Check out this article from PR Newswire about the effects of being uninsured or under insured following a natural disaster.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Weekend Road Closures

From Columbia & Cowlitz Railway:

Beacon Hill Drive will have two-lane intermittent road closures from Saturday, August 28th through Sunday, August 29th for railroad trestle maintenance. Work will occur between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Traffic will be stopped in both directions for up to 15 minutes.

The rail crossing on 30th Avenue just north of the Longview Fred Meyer will also be closed for repairs most of Saturday.

The closure will start at 7:00 a.m. and will likely continue until 9:00 p.m.

Local access will be maintained to the point of construction. Drivers are encouraged to take alternative routes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Weather Alerts and Red Flag Warning

The Portland National Weather Service has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook and a Red Flag Warning for Cowlitz County and surrounding areas. Temperatures will heat up quickly today reaching the 90's for most inland locations by early afternoon. A combination of hot, dry and unstable conditions combined with gusty offshore winds are creating a high fire hazard today. The red flag warning will be in effect until 11:00 p.m. this evening.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Trestle Work on Westside Hwy to Slow Traffic


Westside Highway (SR411) in the vicinity of milepost 3.35 (near Carnival Market) will have an intermittent two-lane road closure from Friday, August 20 through Sunday, August 22 for railroad trestle maintenance.

Work will resume between the hours of
9:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M.

Traffic will be stopped in both directions for up to 15 minutes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Follow Cowlitz DEM via Text Messaging

Awhile back, the Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management launched our Blog and Twitter account as part of our social media footprint. But this week, it became even easier to get information from DEM without ever having to establish your own "Twitter Account." If you are like me and tend to shy away from newfangled technology like smart phones and "the" Twitter, this is a great option for you to stay informed without spending a bunch of money or confusing yourself with apps and data plans and whatever else the kids are doing these days. (Yes, it's true, inside my Gen-X body lives a crotchety geriatric. Get off my lawn! Pull up your pants! Get a haircut! Get a job!)

Anyway, to receive the DEM Twitter messages directly to your cell phone, simply:

1.Put 40404 on the "To" line of your Text Message
2.Put FOLLOW Cowlitzdem in the 'Body" of the Text Message

To stop receiving our Twitter messages via text messaging, simply text UNFOLLOW Cowlitzdem to the same number.

You will receive an auto-message which confirms you are following or have unfollowed our Twitter feed. It takes about 5 minutes to confirm and receive any tweets from that day. If there are no new tweets that day, it may not send you anything until another tweet is entered.

This is an opt-in service and DEM is not able to determine who does or doesn't follow us via text messaging. Standard text-messaging rates will apply based on your cell phone carrier & plan.

We are excited about this option because mobile texting is more common than Twitter accounts in most communities, so it is another way for us to get important messages out to our local community in a timely manner.

So, that's all..until we tweet again....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More on the Sonic Boom

from MSNBC

Fighters sent after Air Force 1 space is violated

SEATTLE — A float plane flying near the Seattle airfield where Air Force One was parked Tuesday triggered a scramble by military fighter jets, resulting in two sonic booms that set off car alarms and caused a failure in a 911 system, authorities said.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said the pilot landed on the north end of Lake Washington, about eight miles from Boeing Field, before the fighters arrived. The FAA said the pilot was being questioned by authorities.

A Secret Service spokesman said the incident "appears to be a routine violation of the temporary flight restriction" in place for Air Force One.

President Barack Obama was in Seattle on Tuesday to stump for Sen. Patty Murray on a three-day campaign swing for endangered Democrats, and the airspace around Boeing Field was restricted.

A spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, John Cornelio, said the F-15 jets were sent from Portland, Ore. Cornelio says the fighters were from the Guard's 142nd Fighter Wing.

KING 5 News reported being flooded with calls and e-mails from people who heard and felt the explosions. Many people reported that their homes shook, KING 5 reported.

Detective Ed Troyer with the Pierce Co. Sheriff's Dept. told KING 5 that the 911 system was down via landlines in areas of Pierce County for a time and car and home alarms were set off by the booms.

Kenmore Air president Todd Banks says the incursion was by a plane that landed at his float plane base on Lake Washington. A passenger, Laura Joseph of Normandy Park, told The Associated Press she and the pilot were returning from Lake Chelan in eastern Washington and didn't know of the flight restrictions.

Did you hear the boom?

Washington State Patrol has confirmed that a sonic boom resulted from an authorized military exercise sometime before 2:00 p.m. today. Several residents in the Coal Creek, Stella and Eufala Heights areas felt their homes shake. A sonic boom is the sound associated with the shock waves created by the supersonic flight of an aircraft. Sonic booms generate enormous amounts of sound energy, sounding much like an explosion. The crack of a supersonic bullet passing overhead is an example of a sonic boom in miniature. So, in short, wasn't your neighbor Daryl's various illegal hobbies that finally exploded. Maybe next time. Updated 2:13pm from

Authorities report two very loud "booms" in the region were caused by two fighter jets scrambled out of Portland to investigate an aircraft that got into restricted air space near Air Force One today. More details soon.

2:19 from Komo 4

SEATTLE -- F-15 fighter jets scrambled from Portland to deal with an unknown aircraft that had entered restricted air space over Western Washington caused two sonic booms that were heard across a wide swath of the region, the FAA reported Tuesday.

Several calls from worried residents from Olympia to Seattle flooded emergency dispatchers and the KOMO Newsroom reporting two distinct explosions that rattled windows and shook homes.

The FAA had restricted a large area to aircraft over Seattle due to President Obama's visit.

A spokesman with the Oregon Air National Guard said two F-15s from their 142nd Fighter Wing were scrambled on a "real world mission" from their base at Portland International Airport but could not elaborate on what the mission entailed.

Avoid Algae Blooms in Silver Lake


For the second consecutive summer, the Cowlitz County Health Department is warning the public to avoid algae blooms in Silver Lake.

The lake is not closed to recreation. However, the public is strongly encouraged to avoid contact with the water where algae is visibly present, health officials said.

"People can still use the lake, but they just need to stay away from any algae bloom," said Janis Housden, the health department's public information officer.

Health officials Monday posted cautionary signs read "toxic algae may be present" after routine monitoring found the blooms last week. Additional education signs are posted as well.

Some species of algae produce toxins harmful to humans and pets if they swallow or touch the green and scummy growth. Health officials took water samples Monday and sent them to the state Department of Ecology to be checked. Test results are expected early next week, Housden said.

Algae blooms give the water an overall green or blue-green color. It's often accompanied by an unpleasant odor.

There have been no reports of illness of humans or animals from contact with Silver Lake. Drinking water from public water systems or private wells in the areas around the lake is unaffected by the bloom and is safe to drink. Fish are safe to eat as long as the digestive organs are removed.

Symptoms of exposure to certain algae toxins include stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, blurred vision, convulsions or severe muscle and joint pains. Skin irritations, allergic reactions, rashes and blisters are also possible. Symptoms may occur within minutes, hours or even up to days after exposure.

Anyone who has these symptoms should see a doctor.

In August 2009, health department officials posted signs for about two weeks warning people and their animals to avoid contact with the lake water after harmful toxins were discovered in the algae bloom.

Monday, August 16, 2010

National Weather Service Issues Red Flag Warning

From the Portland National Weather Service:
The hot, dry, unstable air mass over Western Oregon and Washington will begin to break down as an upper level low moves through the area. However, before the dry air mass moderates, the upper low will provide the potential for thunderstorm development. Very hot and dry conditions are a potent combination for fires.

A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly. A combination of thunderstorms, dry fuels and relatively low humidity create explosive fire growth potential. The Red Flag Warning is in effect from 11:00 a.m. today to 11:00 p.m. Tuesday for thunderstorms and hot and dry conditions.

Friday, August 13, 2010

DNR Warns of Increased Fire Danger


This weekend's high temperatures, low humidity and breezy conditions have prompted the state Department of Natural Resources to ask people to be extra careful with fire, tools and other activities when outdoors west of the Cascade Mountains.

Many Washington counties have fire hazard levels rated "high" to "extreme" this weekend due to dry weather and low moisture levels in grasses, trees and other vegetation. Under these conditions, one spark can lead to a catastrophic wildfire, according to DNR.

In an effort to reduce human-caused wildfires, the DNR issued a statewide burn ban on all DNR-protected lands, including all forestlands in Washington except for federal lands, from July 15 through Sept. 30. Recreational fires are allowed in approved fire pits at designated campgrounds, although some campgrounds may have additional burn restrictions in place.

Joe Shramek, manager of DNR's Resource Protection Division, said he's especially concerned about recreational campfires. In recent weeks, the DNR has responded to an unusually high number of unattended campfires that were not completely extinguished and not cool to the touch.

Check local conditions and restrictions by calling 1-800-323-BURN (2876) or visit

The Heat is On!

The National Weather Service in Portland has announced an "Excessive Heat Watch" from Saturday afternoon until Monday evening for our area. High temperatures in the mid to upper 90's can be expected Saturday through Monday with some locations reaching 100 degrees on Sunday or Monday.


An "Excessive Heat Watch" means that a prolonged period of hot temperatures is possible. The heat may create a dangerous situation in which heat related illnesses are likely. Make sure to stay hydrated and out of the sun during the heat of the day. Never, ever leave children or animals in a closed car as heat stroke can occur in minutes.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Alert System for River Levels

The USGS now has a text message and e-mail alerting system for their river gauges. It is available at:

The WaterAlert system allows you to subscribe to receive information about river gauge heights/flow rates. You can set parameters so that, for example, you can receive notification if a river gauge exceeds a specific gauge height/flow rate.

StreaMail allows you to send an e-mail or text message to and it will immediately return the height/flow for the river that you specified.

This is a great tool if you live near a local river, as they tend to flood every once in a while.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Check Out Cowlitz County Dive Rescue!

Be sure to take some time to check out the Cowlitz County Dive Rescue's updated webpage here and become a fan on Facebook. The Cowlitz County Dive Rescue Team is your only local dive rescue and recovery team. They are a dedicated group of volunteers that work in partnership with the Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office, the Department of Emergency Management, and other law enforcement and public safety agencies to respond to water-related incidents in Cowlitz County. They respond to in-water distress calls, recoveries and help provide a first line of defense against accidental drowning. They provide this service for free. It's not their job, they do it because they care.

The Cowlitz County Dive Rescue Team is also called upon when items become lost in the water or evidence must be recovered from our waterways to help solve crimes. They have training in crime scene preservation and recovery.

All of the services of the team are rendered on a 100% volunteer basis. They are all trained to professional, public-safety diving levels and work diligently to train as often as possible. This can be difficult when volunteer members must provide their own vehicles, dive gear and pay for their own training.

In 2009 alone, they responded to over 20 emergency calls and logged nearly 400 hours of mission time, with 400 hours of training time. Dives account for 35% of all requests for emergency management volunteers. In short, they are the smallest team that takes on the most dangerous and costly missions.

The funding for the team comes mostly from small government grants and donations from local businesses and individuals. The Cowlitz County Dive Rescue Team would greatly appreciate your support by making a donation or becoming a sponsor of the team. As they are a non-profit entity, all donations are tax-deductible and a receipt will be issued to you upon request. Checks can be sent to Cowlitz County Dive Rescue Association c/0 Cowlitz County DEM, 312 SW First Ave, Kelso, WA (make checks payable to Cowlitz County Dive Rescue) or you can donate online by clicking here with most major credit cards or a PayPal account.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Want to Help Build a Better Cowlitz County?

The Cowlitz County Comprehensive Plan is in the process of being updated and retooled. The purpose of the Plan is to manage the County's growth in an orderly, positive, and constructive fashion. Do you have an opinion on what you'd like to see happen in the county in the future? What are your priorities for the next generation of Cowlitz County residents? Take a few minutes to fill out this survey by clicking here and make your voice heard! To read the current Comprehensive Plan, click here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Reporting Terrorism--What To Watch Out For

Info courtesy of Channing-Bete Company

Reporting terrorist threats is an important part of Homeland Security. Terrorists try to promote their beliefs by threatening and committing violence, disrupting daily life and creating uncertainty, panic and fear. Our government is working hard to defend our homeland by preventing and responding to terrorism threats and by bringing the people behind them to justice. You can help defend our country too! Through vigilance and common sense, you can make a difference--by reporting suspicious activities and materials to the proper authorities.

Targets of terrorism include--

Symbols of a nation, city or institution:
* government buildings
* financial districts
* major monuments
* tourist attractions
* other landmarks
* power plants
* water supplies
Transportation systems
* airports or airplanes
* public transit
* bridges
Public safety areas
* hospitals
* police stations
* fire stations
* military bases
Communications systems
* phone services
* internet networks
* mail delivery service

Be aware of strange behavior--but don't take matters into your own hands. Alert your supervisor, or the police at once if a person:

*Seems to be hiding something such as a package or a weapon

*Tries to enter a facility or use a vehicle without the required credentials

*Seeks access to restricted areas or supplies (for example: water wells at food processing plants, municipal reservoirs, chemicals, fertilizers or other hazardous materials)

*Hangs around a facility or drives past it several times

*Leaves a possession such as a briefcase, suitcase or backpack in a place that might be a target.

If you are interested in learning more join us for an informative class all about Terrorism Awareness and Prevention. The class is taught by former Homeland Security Consultant and current Longview Fire Battalion Chief Kevin Taylor and will cover such topics as: What is terrorism, international and domestic terrorism, how to report suspected activity and how to keep your community safe. This course is designed to provide a basic awareness of terrorist activities on an international and local level. The course is free and open to the public. The class will be held on Wednesday,August 25th from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Cowlitz County Administration Building, 207 N. 4th Avenue in Kelso. If you are interested in attending, please email or call us at (360) 577-3130.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's National Night Out!

PORTLAND, Ore. – Neighborhoods across the nation will be taking a "National Night Out" on Tuesday, Aug. 3. The goal? To strengthen neighborhood spirit and send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are fighting back.

The Department of Emergency Management will be at Tam O'Shanter Park in Kelso tonight from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. along with several other agencies. Join us for free activities, games, prizes and refreshments!