The only difference between adventure and disaster is preparedness.

Monday, December 30, 2013

What's Your New Year's Resolution?

According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, Americans who make New Year’s resolutions are eleven times more likely to report continued success in changing a problem than individuals who have not made a resolution. This New Year’s Eve, the Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management wants to encourage citizens to make being prepared for an emergency their resolution. Below are a few simple steps to get the ball rolling.

1. Create a family emergency planYour family may not be together when an emergency happens, so it is important to plan in advance: how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations. You can download a family emergency plan template at

2. Put together an emergency supply kitYou may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it might take days. In addition, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, or even a week or longer. To find a complete checklist of the supplies your household may need in the event of an emergency, visit

3. Be informed about the different types of emergencies that can happen in your area and the appropriate responses.Learn about the hazards that may strike your community, the risks you face from these hazards and your community’s plans for warning and evacuation. Get informed and be in the know at our blog: (well, look at that, you're already here!) and be our fan on Facebook: You can learn all about emergency preparedness on our website at How about getting an emergency text on your cell phone? Just text “Follow CowlitzDEM” to the number 40404. If you have questions, please call us at 577-3130 or email  

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Weather Update

Email Weather Briefing *Edited for brevity*

Courtesy:  NOAA/NWS, Portland, OR

Thursday, December 19, 2013

SYNOPSIS:  We are monitoring the potential for a mix of snow, sleet, and/or freezing rain across the lowlands Friday morning.  A Pacific warm front will gradually spread clouds and precipitation into the area sometime Friday morning.  Temperatures may or may not be below freezing at the time precipitation begins, leading to a significant amount of uncertainty with this event.  There is much greater certainty that temperatures will be above freezing most areas (except perhaps the Columbia Gorge) by noon Friday.  Details should come into better focus as today progresses.


•Friday morning:  Areas Coast Range eastward, with the greatest risk being in Clark County, the Willapa Hills, the Cowlitz River Valley, and the Columbia River Gorge.  The risk of a significant event decreases south of Portland, with only a very slight chance of a significant event near Eugene.


•Friday morning:  Snow and ice may impact the Friday morning commute, even within the main metro areas.  Worst case scenario for the metro areas has about 2 inches of snow and/or a tenth of an inch of ice.  Greater snow and ice accumulations are possible but not likely in the Gorge.


•Friday morning:  Greatest risk prior to 8am, though there is some uncertainty.  Much warmer air should cause a rapid thaw for most areas around mid-morning, with the Gorge being last to thaw around midday or early Friday afternoon.


•Friday morning:  Low.  Timing will be everything, as precipitation will need to start before temperatures rise above freezing for snow and ice issues to occur.  Details will become clearer as today progresses. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

National Weather Service Update

Patchy freezing drizzle will continue into the early afternoon in the North Oregon Coast Range and along the Lower Columbia and I-5 Corridor in Cowlitz County. Scattered snow showers can also be expected into early afternoon. Any ice or snow accumulations are expected to be patchy.

With temperatures remaining below freezing in many areas, be wary of icy or snow covered surfaces. Be extra careful when traveling today.

Missing Castle Rock Man

Kelso, WA - Cowlitz County Sheriff's deputies are looking for a man who left his daughter's Castle Rock home last evening and has not been heard from since.

The man is Richard Sturm of Longview. Mr. Sturm left his daughter's home in Castle Rock early Sunday evening, stating that he was headed home to his residence in Longview. When his daughter did not hear from him, she went to his residence and found that he had not been there. Mr. Sturns' current whereabouts are unknown.

Mr. Sturm, who also goes by "Dick", is 67 years of age, 6', 200#. He was last seen wearing a Green and Black coat, a C

The vehicle he should be driving is a 2003 Chevrolet Silverado with a spare tire and stainless steel box in the bed of the truck.

Mr. Sturm likes to hunt and may possibly have gone into the the area off of the 2000 line between Delameter, Stella, Germany Creek, or may be in the Ryderwood area.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Mr. Sturm is asked to call Deputy Brent Harris at the Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office at 360-577-3092, or Crimestoppers at 360-577-1206.
arhartt tee-shirt, blue jeans and Romeo shoes.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Snow and Freezing Rain on the Way

Per National Weather Service:

The Winter Weather Advisory for snow and freezing drizzle is now in effect from 1 pm this afternoon to 1 pm Tuesday for the Lower Columbia area and the I-5 corridor in Washington.

Timing -- light snow later this morning becoming more steady in the afternoon. Overnight snow turns to or may be mixed with freezing drizzle and persists through Tuesday morning before su...rface temperatures warm.

Accumulation -- generally 1 to 2 inches of snow accumulation, with ice accumulation of a few hundredths of an inch. If snow turns to freezing drizzle less snow will be expected and higher ice accumulation would then occur.

Impacts -- roads will likely become snow covered or icy...especially overnight into Tuesday morning.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Updated Weather Advisory

Winter Weather Advisory
941 AM PST FRI DEC 6 2013



941 AM PST FRI DEC 6 2013







Small Earthquakes reported under Hood Canal

Several small quakes have been recorded under the Hood Canal near Seabeck.
Dispatchers with the Kitsap and Jefferson County sheriff's offices say they have received no reports the quakes were even felt.
The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network recorded a 3.4 magnitude quake at 11:55 p.m. Thursday about 10 miles west of Poulsbo. It was followed by a 1.3 magnitude quake at 12:33 a.m. Friday in the same area. And there was a 2.8 magnitude quake in the same general location at 4:57 a.m. Friday. The quakes were at a depth of 11 miles.

What a mess!

Traffic is a mess in pretty much every direction this morning.  Crews are still cleaning up after a pile-up between exit 52 and 56 north of Castle Rock and traffic is extremely slow in both directions.  Also Glenwood Drive in Longview is closed.  Many roads around the county are still extremely icy, so take caution if you must drive.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Warming Shelter Needs

An emergency “warming” shelter in Kelso has plenty pillows and blankets after a request went out Wednesday, but it still needs donations of easy-to-prepare, microwavable and ready-to-eat foods, toiletries, paper plates, cups and towels.

The shelter is located at 300 N. Fourth Ave in Kelso, WA.

It is open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. when temperatures are expected to drop below 30 degrees.



Christmas Countdown

Stumped for stocking stuffers? Perplexed for presents? Glassy-eyed for gifts? Flummoxed on favors? Amazed by alliteration? Give the gift of preparedness! Here are a few of my favorite sites to get some great gifts: (a great local company out of Vancouver, WA) (another local company out of Kirkland, WA)

You can also get some very useful safety supplies here in town at Bob's at 1111 Hudson in Longview. If you really want to support the local economy, check out the camping supply section there. Pick up a handy flashlight or some freeze-dried food. How about a roadside safety kit for your mom?

Any dummy can give a Starbucks giftcard, but a really awesome person gives the gift of preparedness! (However, if you DID want to leave a Starbucks giftcard on my desk, I wouldn't mind).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Unseasonable Cold

Unseasonably cold low temperatures for the next few nights.

 A cold and dry air mass will settle over the region for the next few days. Very cold sub-freezing overnight temperatures are expected the next several nights. Temperatures may approach or break record lows for the date. Low temperatures in the urban centers will likely fall below freezing each night and have the potential to fall deep into the 20s. Outside the urban centers, low temperatures will approach 20 degrees each night. Daytime temperatures in warmest areas will struggle to reach much above 40 degrees.

PRIMARY AREAS IMPACTED: Valley locations will see the coldest temperatures and near record values, particularly in outlying areas nearer the Cascades. Locations off the valley floor and closer to the coast will not be quite as cold but still near record values.

TIMING: Tonight through at least Saturday morning. Cold conditions may continue into early next week. Clear evening skies will allow temperatures to rapidly drop. Overnight inversions will make for slow rises during the day.

FORECAST CONFIDENCE: High confidence that temperatures well below freezing will occur across a widespread area.

UNCERTAINITIES: Specific temperatures values are somewhat in question given the unusual early-season timing. Temperatures have potential to be colder than forecasted. Tonight’s temperatures will serve as a benchmark for the next several nights.

Back It Up!


Businesses create and manage a large amount of data and electronic information. Some of that data is essential to daily operations and business survival. Vital information can be lost due to hacking, human error or hardware failure resulting in significant business disruption. Would you know what to do if your information technology stopped working?

This is when having a plan for data backup and recovery will come in handy. To develop your data backup plan, you should: • Identify what data to backup; • Implement hardware and software procedures; • Schedule and conduct backups; and • Periodically check data to ensure it has been accurately backed up.

Data backup and recovery is an integral part of the business continuity plan for IT disaster preparedness. Data on network servers, wireless devices, laptop and desktop computers should be backed up along with hard copy records and other information. Tapes, cartridges and large capacity USB drives with integrated data backup software are effective means for business backup. Taking steps to secure your business’ vital information is also a great way to support the America’s PrepareAthon! campaign to increase community resilience in times of disaster. Follow @PrepareAthon on Twitter for all things disaster preparedness!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What Month is This?

Well, yes, obviously it's November. But it's also Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month (CISRM)! I can't believe not one of you sent me a Happy CISRM card.

November is designated by the federal government as Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month to recognize the importance of strengthening our nation’s infrastructure and enhancing our homeland security and resilience. Our nation's critical infrastructure provides the essential services that support American society. It provides the power we use in our homes, the water we drink, the transportation that gets us from place to place, the bridges that connect us and the communication systems on which we rely to stay in touch with friends and family.

Safeguarding critical infrastructure against growing and evolving threats – both physical and cyber – requires a whole community effort. Read the President’s proclamation and find out what you can do to make your home, business and community more resilient here. Americans can do their part at home, at work and in their local communities by being prepared for all hazards, reporting suspicious activities, and learning more about critical infrastructure security and resilience.

Are You "Tech" Ready?


Keep your contacts updated across all of your channels, including phone, email and social media. This will make it easy to reach out to the right people quickly to get information and supply updates. Consider creating a group list serve of your top contacts.

 •Learn how to send updates via text and internet from your mobile phone to your contacts and social channels in case voice communications are not available. Text messages and the internet often have the ability to work in the event of a phone service disruption.

•Keep extra batteries for your phone in a safe place or purchase a solar-powered or hand crank charger. These chargers are good emergency tools to keep your laptop and other small electronics working in the event of a power outage. If you own a car, purchase a car phone charger because you can charge your phone if you lose power at your home.

•Program "In Case of Emergency" (ICE) contacts into your cell phone so emergency personnel can contact those people for you if you are unable to use your phone. Let your ICE contacts know that they are programmed into your phone and inform them of any medical issues or other special needs you may have.

•If you have a traditional landline (non-broadband or VOIP) phone, keep at least one non-cordless receiver in your home because it will work even if you lose power.

•If you are evacuated and have call-forwarding on your home phone, forward your home phone number to your cell phone number.

•If you do not have a cell phone, keep a prepaid phone card to use if needed during or after a disaster.

•Prepare a family contact sheet. This should include at least one out-of-town contact that may be better able to reach family members in an emergency.

•Have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio or television available (with spare batteries).

The following are additional tips when making phone calls and using your smartphone during or after a disaster:

 •Keep all phone calls brief. If you need to use a phone, try to convey only vital information to emergency personnel and/or family.

•If you are unsuccessful in completing a call using your cell phone, wait ten seconds before redialing to help reduce network congestion.

•Conserve your cell phone battery by reducing the brightness of your screen, placing your phone in airplane mode, and closing apps you are not using that draw power, unless you need to use the phone.

•If you lose power, you can charge your cell phone in your car. Just be sure your car is in a well-ventilated place (remove it from the garage) and do not go to your car until any danger has passed. You can also listen to your car radio for important news alerts.

•If you do not have a hands-free device in your car, stop driving or pull over to the side of the road before making a call. Do not text on a cell phone, talk, or "tweet" without a hands free device while driving.

•Immediately following a disaster, resist using your mobile device to watch streaming videos, download music or videos, or play video games, all of which can add to network congestion. Limiting use of these services can help potentially life-saving emergency calls get through to 9-1-1.

•For non-emergency communications, use text messaging, e-mail, or social media instead of making voice calls on your cell phone to avoid tying up voice networks. Data-based services like texts and emails are less likely to experience network congestion. You can also use social media to post your status to let family and friends know you are okay. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, you can use resources such as the American Red Cross's Safe and Well program.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Alternative Water Sources

From FEMA'S "Are You Ready--An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness"

Turn off the main water valves. You will need to protect the water sources already in your home from contamination if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines or if local officials advise you of a problem. To close the incoming water source, located the incoming valve and turn it to the closed position. Be sure you and other family members know how to perform this important procedure.

* To use the water in your pipes, let air into the plumbing by turning on the faucet in your home at the highest level. A small about of water will trickle out. Then obtain water from the lowest faucet in the home.

* To use the water in your hot water tank, be sure the electricity or gas is off, and open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve at the tank and turning on the hot-water furnace. Refill the tank before turning the gas or electricity back on. If the gas is turned off, a professional will be needed to turn it back on.

Safe water sources include:
* Melted ice (like from the freezer, not from the driveway)
* Water drained from the water heater
* Liquids from canned goods such as fruits or vegetables (hmm....I'd take issue with this. The liquid from canned vegetables is FULL of sodium and the liquid from fruit is full of sugar. I'd use this as a last resort)

* Water drained from pipes

Unsafe water sources include:

* Radiators

* Water beds

* Water from the toilet bowl or tank

* Swimming pools and spas (chemicals used to kill germs are too concentrated for safe drinking but could be used for personal hygiene)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Water quickly becomes a precious resource following many disasters. It is vital that all household members how to shut off the water at the main house valve.

* Cracked lines may pollute the water supply to your house. It is wise to shut off your water until you hear from authorities that it is safe for drinking.

* The effects of gravity may drain the water in your hot water heater and toilet tanks unless you trap it in your house by shutting off the main house valve (NOT the street valve in the cement box at the curb--this valve is extremely difficult to turn and requires a special tool).

Preparing to Shut Off Water

* Locate the shut-off valve for the water line that enters your house.

* Make sure this valve can be completely shut off. Your valve may be rusted open, or it may only partially close. Replace if necessary.

* Label this valve with a tag for easy identification, and make sure all household members know where it is located.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Read a Book

I know that Halloween is over, but if you're still looking for something scary to keep you keep you up all night, give "Five Days at Memorial" by Sheri Fink a try. The book follows the staff and patients of New Orleans Memorial Hospital in the harrowing days after Hurricane Katrina. If you are in the medical, first response or emergency management field, this book is a MUST read. It's also a great read for anyone who wants to know the true impacts of not being adequately prepared or trained for a disaster. Heart wrenching decisions had to be made in the wake of the storm and, whether or not you agree with them, it's fascinating to see how people react and respond.

Evacuation Guidelines

From FEMA'S "Are You Ready--An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness"

Evacuations are more common than people realize. People living in coastal areas and in the Gulf states are old pro's at evacuation, but here in SW Washington we don't have the constant threat of tsunami or hurricane issues. However, that's no reason to get complacent.

We have our fair share of potential hazards that might require evacuation: flood (remember 96 and 08?), wildfire (residents in the Ostrander area had to evacuate during the Ball Park Fire in 98), landslide (Aldercrest), major chemical release (hello large industrial area, how are you today?), pipeline hazards, etc. 

Here are some helpful tips for evacuation preparation:

* Keep a full tank of gas in your car if an evacuation seems likely. (most of our events are fairly fast moving, so I'd say don't let your tank get below a 1/4. I'm guilty of running on fumes, but I'm resolving to stop doing that right now! Gas stations may be closed during emergencies or unable to pump gas during an electrical outage.

* Make transportation arrangements with friends or neighbors if you do not own a car.

* Listen to a radio and follow local evacuation instructions.

* Gather your family and go if you are instructed to evacuate immediately.

* Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.

* Be alert for washed out roads and bridges. Do NOT drive in flooded areas.

* Stay away from downed power lines.

* If there is a risk of flooding or power outage, unplug electrical equipment and small appliances.

* Let others know where you are going.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Disaster Preparedness Tips from the Alzheimer's Association

Advance preparations
• If your loved one lives in a residential facility, find out about its disaster and evacuation plans. Ask if you will be responsible for evacuating your loved one.
• Whether your loved one lives with you, or you are a long-distance caregiver, make sure evacuation plans include his or her specific needs. Check your local Alzheimer’s Association and other organizations that provide services for the elderly to see if help is available.
• Prepare an emergency kit (see below for suggestions).
• Enroll in MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®, a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for individuals with Alzheimer’s or related dementia that wander or who have a medical emergency. Call toll-free at 1.888.572.8566 or visit • If you are already enrolled in MedicAlert + Safe Return, make sure your information is up to date.

If you know a pending disaster is about to occur:
• Get yourself and the person with Alzheimer’s to a safe place.
• If the need to evacuate is likely, do not delay. Try to leave as early as possible to minimize long delays in heavy traffic.
• Alert others (family, friends, medical personnel) that you are changing locations, and give them your contact information. Contact them regularly as you move.
• Be sure there are people other than the primary caregiver who have copies of the person with dementia’s medical history, medications, physician information and family contacts.
• Purchase extra medications.
• If your loved one uses oxygen, be sure to obtain portable tanks.

Emergency kit 

Consider preparing an emergency kit in advance. Keep it in a watertight container and store it in an easily accessible location. Your emergency kit might include:

• Easy on/off clothes (a couple of sets).
• Supplies of medication (or minimally, a list of medications with dosages).
• Velcro shoes/sneakers.
• A spare pair of eyeglasses.
• Incontinence products.
• Extra identification items for the person, such as an ID bracelet and clothing tags.
• Copies of legal documents, such as a power of attorney.
• Copies of medical documents that indicate the individual’s condition and current medications.
• Copies of insurance and Social Security cards.
• Use waterproof bags to hold medications and documents.
• Physician’s name, address and phone numbers (including cell phone).
• Recent picture of the person with dementia.
• Hand lotion or other items to promote comfort.
• Bottled water.
• Favorite items or foods. Liquid meals.
• Pillow, toy or something else to hug.
• Alzheimer’s Association and MedicAlert + Safe Return phone numbers.

During an evacuation people with dementia are especially vulnerable to chaos and emotional trauma. They have a limited ability to understand what is happening, and they may forget what they have been told about the disaster. Be alert to potential reactions that may result from changes in routine, traveling or new environments.

• When appropriate, inform others (hotel or shelter staff, family members, airline attendants) that your loved one has dementia and may not understand what is happening.
• Do not leave the person alone. It only takes a few minutes to wander away and get lost.
• Changes in routine, traveling and new environments can cause: o Agitation o Wandering o Increase in behavioral symptoms, including hallucinations, delusions and sleep disturbance.
• Do your best to remain calm. The person with dementia will respond to the emotional tone you set. Tips for preventing agitation Reassure the person. Hold hands or put your arm on his or her shoulder. Say things are going to be fine.
• Find outlets for anxious energy. Take a walk together or engage the person in simple tasks. • Redirect the person’s attention if he or she becomes upset.
• Move the person to a safer or quieter place, if possible. Limit stimulation.
• Make sure the person takes medications as scheduled.
• Try to schedule regular meals and maintain a regular sleep schedule.
• Avoid elaborate or detailed explanations. Provide information using concrete terms. Follow brief explanations with reassurance.
• Be prepared to provide additional assistance with all activities of daily living.
• Pay attention to cues that the person may be overwhelmed (fidgeting, pacing).
• Remind the person that he or she is in the right place. Helpful hints during an episode of agitation
• Approach the person from the front and use his or her name.
• Use calm, positive statements and a patient, low-pitched voice. Reassure.
• Respond to the emotions being expressed rather than the content of the words. For example, say, “You’re frightened and want to go home. It’s ok. I’m right here with you.”
• Don’t argue with the person or try to correct. Instead, affirm his or her experience, reassure and try to divert attention. For example, “The noise in this shelter is frightening. Let’s see if we can find a quieter spot. Let’s look at your photo book together.”
• Take care of yourself by finding a good listener to hear your thoughts and feelings about the event.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Preparedness for Dialysis Patients

It is critical that people receiving dialysis treatment are prepared for severe weather and disaster. The following link is a great resource for disaster preparedness information specifically for people on dialysis:

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Building a Rain Barrel

On November 14 at 6:00 pm, Cowlitz County Master Gardener Jon Griffin will discuss the benefits using rain barrels. Participants will take home a rain barrel from the class. Jon will discuss how to get started, what to look for when buying a suitable barrel and how to construct a system that will make economic and environmental sense. Cost of the class is $50.00 per barrel. Additional rain barrels can be purchased at $40.00. You must pre-register by November 11. The class will be held for in the Agricultural Building located on the Cowlitz County fairgrounds in Longview. The workshop is sponsored by Washington State University Extension Master Gardeners. For more information, contact Gary Fredricks at 577-3014 Ext 3 or Learn how you can water off the meter which conserves of one of our most precious resources and leaves more cash in your pocket.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Power Outage Tips

These tips are courtesy of State of Hawaii Department of Health:

* If you anticipate the electricity going out, set your refrigerator to the coldest temperature possible beforehand, so foods will last longer after the power outage.

* Food that is in the refrigerator, such as milk, sour cream and yogurt should be eaten first since it will spoil most quickly.

* Food that is in the freezer, such as frozen meats that can be grilled, should be eaten next. Food in a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer will stay frozen for approximately 12 hours, while food in a top or bottom mount freezer may remain frozen for up to 24 hours. Items in a separate freezer may remain frozen for 48-72 hours.
* A grill may be used to cook food, but should never be used inside the home.

* Canned good and dried foods are non-perishables but should be stored in a cool, dry place, with a note about the purchase date of the product. These foods should be eaten last, after the perishable foods are gone or have spoiled. Canned goods should be eaten within 2 hours of opening.

* Low-sodium food is a good investment, as salt will make you thirsty. If you are on a sodium-restricted diet, rinse all canned foods thoroughly before eating. Salt, however, is important in the daily diet.

* Most fruits and vegetables hold their quality at room temperature for several days.

* Water is extremely important and can be used not only for drinking, but also for rehydrating dried foods, cooking, brushing teeth, and for sanitation. At least a gallon of water per person per day (plus extra for pets) is necessary.

* If you have special dietary needs, consult with your doctor to make sure you have the recommended supplies in case of an emergency.

* Paper plates, cups, napkins, and plastic utensils are useful in an emergency, as they can simply be discarded rather than needing to be washed.

* Experts recommend at least 5-7 days of food be kept on hand if you are sheltering in place.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Carbon Monoxide Safety

When power outages occur after severe weather such, using alternative sources of power can cause carbon monoxide (CO) to build up in your home and poison your family. CO is a colorless, odorless gas created by burning fuel when using portable generators, gas ranges, burning wood or by running your car.

While hundreds of people die in the U.S. each year from accidental CO poisoning, this tragedy can be prevented. If you don’t have a battery-powered or battery back-up CO detector in your home, install one as soon as possible and check it every six months.

You should also follow these safety tips: • Do not run your car inside a garage that is attached to your home, even if the garage door is open to the outside; • Have your heating system, water heater and other gas, oil or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician each year; and • Never heat your house with a gas oven. Since you can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, it is important to recognize the most common symptoms of CO poisoning. If you think you are experiencing CO poisoning, you should get fresh air and seek medical attention immediately!

Friday, October 25, 2013

No tsunami alerts following 7.3 quake in Japan

A magnitude 7.3 earthquake hit the Honshu coast of Japan earlier today. At this time there is no tsunami alert for US coasts. Click here for USGS website.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

HAM Radio class in Thurston County

FYI-- There is a HAM radio (amateur radio) class being offered in November at the Thurston County ECC in Olympia. It is November 2 & 16 (Saturdays) from 9 - 4 pm. For more information and/or to register please call 360-951-2538 or email You will need to purchase a book for approx $30 and you can get that information when you register or order the ARRL Technician Class Study Guide from

Friday, October 18, 2013

When Buildings Attack!

This comes from our friends at CRESA:

This morning, an estimated 866,000 people in Washington State participated in the Great Washington Shakeout, a statewide 'drop, cover, and hold on' drill. The reason why we 'drop, cover and hold on' when the ground shakes is to protect ourselves from what in the building trades they call 'nonstructural' items.

Most injuries in earthquakes occur when these items come crashing down on victims: computers, monitors, tall furniture, TVs, appliances, ceiling tiles, light fixtures, bricks, tiles, etc. Put simply, nonstructural items are anything in a building that's not dedicated to keeping a building upright. This also includes cladding, mechanical systems, electrical systems, piping, HVAC, fire protection systems, and so on. Since the early 70's in the US, building codes required that buildings be built to withstand some level of ground shaking.

However, for the most part, these codes only address structural components. They do not fully address nonstructural components. So for the building you are in, unless there was special attention paid to securing nonstructural items, they may fail in an earthquake. If they don't fall and hurt someone, they may still block exit routes. They may also be damaged to the extent that the building is unusable. Nonstructural items represent the majority of the costs of a building and so damage to these items can be very expensive and can extend the time it takes you to recover.

The good news is that it's fairly easy and inexpensive to secure nonstructural items. There are a number of strategies but probably the best two are a) relocation and b) anchoring. Relocate especially dangerous, loose items to a place where they don't crash into people or into other items or block exit routes. For items that can't be relocated, anchor them to a secure point such as wall studs.

Here are some other tips: Do a walk through of your home and workplace. Inventory and prioritize high risk items and come up with a plan to mitigate them. This is a great project for a work safety committee. Secure your hot water heater. Kits are available at hardware stores. Demand seismic design for any new construction, remodeling, installation, and retrofits Easy and essential items to secure at the home or office are computers, office equipment, and tall furniture. Simple L-brackets and velcro can do the trick. Specific fasteners are also available. Do a web search for "earthquake fastening solutions".

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Support Search & Rescue

Cowlitz County Search and Rescue invites you to join us on Saturday, October 19 for a Flapjack breakfast at Applebee's of Longview. Enjoy a breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, and orange juice or coffee; prepared by your neighborhood Applebee's chefs and served by our volunteer Search and Rescue members. Tickets for this event are $10.00 per person and can be purchased using the PayPal button at or in person from any of our members, or at the door. All proceeds will benefit Cowlitz County Search & Rescue; a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Looking for something fun to do on Thursday?

Look no further! See below for information about Cowlitz County Search & Rescue's BINGO fundraiser.

Cowlitz County Search and Rescue is honored to have the Fraternal Order of Eagles of Longview (Nest 2116) host us for a night of BINGO. Come out and join us for an evening of fun, prizes, and food. The Eagles will be calling the games; while Search and Rescue volunteers will be serving up the food. Burgerville of Woodland has donated burgers and fries, which we will be grilling up; and our volunteers will be baking all sorts of treats and goodies to satisfy your sweet tooth.

All proceeds will benefit Cowlitz County Search & Rescue; a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
BINGO Fundraiser Eagle's Nest
1526 12th Ave Longview, WA 98632

Thursday, October 10, 2013 6:30 - 10:00 PM

Foster Farms Chicken Public Health Alert

See below for information regarding Foster Farms chicken health alert:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2013 -

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert due to concerns that illness caused by strains of Salmonella Heidelberg are associated with raw chicken products produced by Foster Farms at three facilities in California.

At this point in the investigation, FSIS is unable to link the illnesses to a specific product and a specific production period. Raw products from the facilities in question bear one of the establishment numbers inside a USDA mark of inspection or elsewhere on the package: “P6137” “P6137A” “P7632” The products were mainly distributed to retail outlets in California, Oregon and Washington State. This public health alert is being issued after an estimated 278 illnesses were recently reported in 18 states, predominantly in California. The outbreak is continuing.

The investigations indicate that consumption of Foster Farms brand chicken and other brand chicken produced at Foster Farms plants are the likely source of this outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections. Illnesses were linked to Foster Farms brand chicken through epidemiologic, laboratory and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is partnering with state health departments to monitor the outbreak while FSIS continues its investigation.

The investigation is ongoing and FSIS is prepared to take additional actions or expand the investigation based on new evidence. FSIS reminds consumers to properly handle raw poultry in a manner to prevent contamination from spreading to other foods and food contact surfaces. FSIS further reminds consumers of the critical importance of following package cooking instructions for frozen or fresh chicken products and general food safety guidelines when handling and preparing any raw meat or poultry.

In particular, while cooking instructions may give a specific number of minutes of cooking for each side of the product in order to attain 165 °F internal temperature, consumers should be aware that actual time may vary depending on the cooking method (broiling, frying, or grilling) and the temperature of the product (chilled versus frozen) so it is important that the final temperature of 165 °F must be reached for safety. Please do not rely on the cooking time for each side of the product, but use a food thermometer.

All poultry products should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165° F as determined by a food thermometer. Using a food thermometer is the only way to know that food has reached a high enough temperature to destroy foodborne bacteria. Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses.

Salmonella infections can be life-threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems, such as infants, the elderly and persons with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within eight to 72 hours. Additional symptoms may be chills, headache, nausea and vomiting that can last up to seven days.

Consumers with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Emergency Prep Fair

If you are on the other side of the Columbia and looking for something to do on October 12th, go check out the Columbia City Emergency Preparedness Fair from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The fair will be held at Columbia City Community Hall at 1850 Second Street. Join them for activities, prizes, vendors, demonstrations, hamburgers, hot dogs and more!

Monday, September 30, 2013

West Side Highway

Westside Highway remains closed between Solomon Road and Fisher's Lane.  At this time, WSDOT can only estimate that the road will be closed several days while emergency repairs are made.  For questions about this project, you can call WSDOT at 360-705-7000.

Blustery Weekend

Power outages and downed trees galore in Cowlitz County this weekend!  Our area was battered by gusts of winds from 40-50 mph and the PUD was busy restoring power.  Looks like a return to calm for the rest of week, but the river level remains unseasonably high.

For the most up to date information, be sure to "like" our Facebook page at

Friday, September 27, 2013

Updated Forecast

The weather forecast keeping getting worse.  Here are expected impacts to Cowlitz County:

*  First weather system will be Friday night into Saturday;
*  Second, stronger system will be Saturday night into Sunday;
*  1.5-4 inches of rain from Friday night to Sunday night.
*  Winds 25-35 mph
*  Sharp rises on smaller creeks; urban street flooding possible.

Due to the upcoming storm system, the scheduled repairs to Westside Hwy between Solomon Road and Fisher's Lane have been postponed to a later date.

However, PREPARE FAIR 2013 has NOT been postponed.  Come see us at Kessler Elementary on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  There will be lots of activities and prizes all about disaster preparedness.  The first 15 people through the door will receive complimentary emergency ponchos! Wooo hoooo!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wet Weather Ahead


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Want to Be a Reserve Deputy?

Have you ever wanted to be a law enforcement officer? The Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office is accepting applications for reserve deputies through Oct. 1. Applicants must be at least 21 years old, have a valid driver's license and high school diploma or GED, and pass a physical and written test, as well as an in-depth background investigation. Those who pass will participate in a reserve academy, beginning in January. Reserve deputies must volunteer at least 16 hours each month helping sheriff's deputies with their daily duties, as well as attend bimonthly training sessions. Applications are available at the sheriff's office in the Hall of Justice, 312 S.W. First Ave. in Kelso. For more information, call Deputy Jordan Spencer at 360-577-3092 or visit .

Plan to Be Safe

From Washington State Military Dept--Emergency Management Division In the coming weeks we will feature earthquake preparedness and safety recommendations as an optional addition to your ShakeOut participation, which will improve your readiness for a big earthquake or other emergencies. Plan to be safe by creating a disaster plan and deciding how you will communicate in an emergency. The Washington Military Department - Emergency Management Division provides downloadable action plans for how you can plan to be safe from earthquakes, tsunamis, and other hazards, as part of a variety of resources to help you Prepare in a Year. Here are highlights of what to consider when planning for earthquakes: • Identify safe spots in every room, such as under sturdy desks or tables, or on the ground next to an interior wall away from windows and things that may fall. • Earthquakes can start fires, so store a fire extinguisher where it can be easily accessed, and learn how to use it (P.A.S.S. - Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep). • People often cut their feet during or after earthquakes when they get out of bed and walk barefoot on broken glass or other fallen objects. To keep shoes and a flashlight within reach, put them in a bag under your bed. • Access to making long distance phone calls is usually restored first. Choose someone who lives out of the area for everyone in your family to report their status, then learn how to Text First, Talk Second from ShakeOut partner Safe America Foundation. • If you are a person with a disability or need extra help, include your personal support network in your plan and visit for a variety of resources. • Find out if you live, work or play in a tsunami zone and make sure everyone knows how to get to higher ground if necessary. To find out if you’re in the zone, visit:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

First Responder Training at LCC

This Wednesday morning, September 18th, Emergency Management together with Lower Columbia College, local fire, EMS, law enforcement and SWAT agencies will be conducting a DRILL practicing dealing with an armed intruder to the college campus. Full-scale TRAINING like this is extremely valuable for our first responders. This DRILL has been in the planning stages for many months and is in no way related to the real-life events that have occurred earlier this week on the east coast. This DRILL is part of the continuing effort to ensure the safety and security of the college campus & our community. Please DO NOT be alarmed by the response vehicles and other first responder activities you may see in the area, and if you are a place of business be sure to notify your customers about this event as well. Thank you!

Monday, September 16, 2013

School Emergency Plans

From: A Parent's Guide to School Crisis Planning
If you have children in school here are some tips for what to do in an emergency: In order for the school district's emergency response plans to be effective, they must depend on the cooperation and assistance of many people, such as the police and fire departments. They also depend on the parents to support disaster response efforts. Please observe the following procedures during a crisis situation (your school district policies may vary, but these are fairly standard procedure)

 * Do not telephone the school. They understand and respect your concern for your child, but it is essential that the telephone system be available for emergency communications.

 * Tune your radio to a local radio station or check the district's website for emergency announcements and status reports. You will also receive instructions on where you should go to and how/when you may be able to pick up your child.

*  Do not come to the school or evacuation location until you are instructed to do so.  It may be necessary to keep the streets and parking lot clear for emergency vehicles.  If a building is in a lockdown situation, you will not be allowed to enter.

*  If evacuation is required, students may be transported to a location away from the school.  You will be notified of this through media bulletins, the district message line, and/or the county message line.  Photo ID will be required for student pickup.

*  The media may want to interview you or your child.  Depending on the situation, this may make matters worse.  If in doubt, decline to participate.  The school has a specific person assigned to communicate with the media.

*  Staff have specific assignments and training to respond to situations.  Volunteers should report to the Incident Commander for assignment rather than jumping in to assist on their own.  Good intentions may sometimes complicate the problem.

*  Emergency information should include any special needs or medications that your child requires.

*  Always check in at the office when you visit the school.

*  The school district has a plan to assist with emotional recovery after an incident.

*  It is a good idea to include out-of-state or out-of-area emergency phone contacts.  In some emergencies, long distance service is all that is available.

It is always a good idea to check in with your particular school to get a refresher on their emergency plans.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Flooding Prompts Massive Evacuations in Colorado

Thousands of residents are being evacuated in Colorado due to widespread flooding. It floods around these parts, would you be ready to leave at a moment's notice? If not, check out this website: and learn more.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Power Line Safety

If you see a power line on the ground, DO NOT TOUCH it with anything. Expect every power line to be “live.” If a power line falls across your vehicle, DO NOT GET OUT! Take care not to touch any of the metal frame. Honk your horn, roll down the window and warn anyone who may approach of the danger. Ask someone to call the police and wait until emergency help arrives. To report downed power lines call Cowlitz PUD:(360) 423-2210 or WA toll free 1-(800) 631-1131

Friday, September 6, 2013

What's for Dinner?

If you're anything like me, you probably hear this at least once a day. On a normal day, I'm assuming you usually have an answer. During a disaster though, would you know what to say? Here are some tips and ideas for food storage. Emergency, long-term storage food is commercially available, but the regular canned, dry and other food in your pantry can make for perfectly good emergency food storage. Try to keep a two-week supply on hand. Have food that your family likes, that are easy to make and need no refrigeration. Do not forget any special dietary needs in your family. Make sure to have a manual can opener and a supply of disposable utensils and plates as well. Supplements such as vitamins and protein are good additions. Practice "First In, First Out" technique. As you add new items to your pantry, place them in the back. Use older items (the first in, first out rule) before the use-by date. This way, your storage will naturally rotate and stay fresh. Inspect foods for signs of spoilage. Throw out cans that are swollen, dented or corroded. Shelf life for common foods (unopened) Six months: powdered milk, dried fruit, crackers, pretzels One year:canned meat, soups, vegetables, nuts and juices, cereal, peanut butter, jelly, vitamins Can be store indefinitely in proper containers and conditions:wheat, white rice, dry pasta, soybeans, instant coffee, tea and cocoa, vegetable oil, baking powder, salt, honey

Thursday, September 5, 2013

All About Lightning

Lightning strikes about three million times a day on earth. In addition to its electric charge, a bolt of lightning can reach a temperature of 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit. That is hotter than the surface of the sun! About 80 people are killed by lightning in an average year in the United States. Many more are injured, often seriously and long term. This makes lightning among the most dangerous of natural hazards. Stay aware of the weather forecast for your area, especially if you have outdoor activities planned. If you see dark, threatening clouds or hear thunder, it is time to prepare: * Every 5 seconds you can count between a lightning bolt and its thunderclap is one mile between you and the lightning. Since lightning can strike miles away from its cloud, don't consider yourself face. If you hear thunder, it is best to take shelter in a building or fully enclosed metal vehicle such as a car. * If you are on the water, try to find land nearby to take shelter. * Avoid showering or bathing during a thunderstorm. Plumbing can conduct the electricity from a strike to you. * Unplug all electrical equipment, a lightning strike can damage it or someone using it. * If you have to take shelter outside, stay away from large metal objects. Avoid lone trees in open spaces. If in a forest, take shelter in a clump of shorter trees. If nowhere else is available, go to a low spot and crouch down. Do not lie down and beware of standing water. * If someone has been struck by lightning call 9-1-1. If they are not breathing or do not have a pulse, begin CPR. Check for burns. Caution, make sure they are not electrically charged before touching the victim.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Safeway Coupon

I found a $10 off of a $50 purchase at Safeway coupon in the paper the other day. You know what that means?! I can rotate the 10 gallons of water that I have in the garage that expires this month, use it to water the garden and buy 10 more gallons with a year shelf life, at no extra cost other than the $50 in food that I needed anyway. Put those coupons to good use and add to your disaster supply kit!

Create a Personal Support Network

If you anticipate needing assistance during a disaster, make a list of family, friends and others who will be a part of your plan. Talk to these people and ask them to be part of your support network. Share each aspect of your emergency plan with everyone in your group, including a friend or relative in another area who would not be impacted by the same emergency who could help if necessary. Make sure everyone knows how you plan to evacuate your home, school or workplace and where you will go in case of a disaster. Make sure that someone in your personal support network has an extra key to your home and knows where you keep your emergency supplies. Teach them how to use any lifesaving equipment or administer medicine in case of an emergency. If you use a wheelchair, oxygen or other medical equipment, show friends how to use these devices so they can move you if necessary or help you evacuate. Practice your plan with those who have agreed to be part of your personal support network. Inform your employer and co-workers about your disability and let them know specifically what assistance you will need in an emergency. This is particularly important if you need to be lifted or carried. Talk about communication difficulties, physical limitations, equipment instructions and medication procedures.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Can you be on your own for a week?


If you take medication or use a medical treatment on a daily basis, be sure you have what you need on hand to make it on your own for at least a week. You should keep a copy of your prescriptions as well as dosage or treatment information. If it is not possible to have a week-long supply of medication and/or supplies, keep as much as possible on hand and talk to your pharmacist or doctor about what else you should do to prepare.

If you undergo routine treatments administered by a clinic or hospital or if you receive regular services such as home health care, treatment or transportation, talk to your service provider about their emergency plans. Work with them to identify back-up service providers within your area and the areas you might evacuate to. 
If you use medical equipment in your home that requires electricity to operate, talk to your health care provider about what you can do to prepare for its use during a power outage.

In addition, there may be other things specific to your personal needs that you should also have on hand. If you use eyeglasses, hearing aids and hearing aid batteries, wheelchair batteries, and oxygen, be sure you always have extras in your home. Also, have copies of your medical insurance, Medicare and Medicaid cards readily available. If you have a service animal, be sure to include food, water, collar with ID tag, medical records and other emergency pet supplies.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

This September--YOU can be the hero!

September is National Preparedness Month (NPM). The Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management has committed to participate in National Preparedness Month to increase preparedness throughout the U.S. The event, now in its ninth year, is a nationwide, month-long effort hosted by the Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps, encouraging households, businesses and communities to prepare and plan for emergencies.

One of NPM’s key messages is: be prepared in the event an emergency causes you to be self-reliant for three days without utilities and electricity, water service, access to a supermarket or local services, or maybe even without response from police, fire or rescue.

Preparing can start with four important steps:
 1. Be informed about emergencies that could happen in your community, and identify sources of information in your community that will be helpful before, during and after an emergency
2. Make a plan for what to do in an emergency
3. Build an emergency supply kit
4. Get involved. Preparedness is a shared responsibility; it takes a whole community.

This year’s National Preparedness Month focuses on turning awareness into action by encouraging all individuals and all communities nationwide to make an emergency preparedness plan

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Countdown to Preparedness Month!

Only a few more days until National Preparedness Month! How are you celebrating this year? Trimming the ol' preparedness tree with flashlights and batteries? Singing disaster carols while you rotate the supplies in your preparedness kit? Dressing up in a HazMat suit and going door to door asking neighbors for canned food and bottled water? Maybe not everyone celebrates like emergency managers do, but everyone can do their part to be prepared! Check out to learn about things you can do to get better prepared for a winter storm, power outage or earthquake.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Email Scam

Spear-Phishing E-mail with Missing Children Theme 

The FBI has become aware of a spear-phishing e-mail made to appear as if it were from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The subject of the e-mail is “Search for Missing Children,” and a zip file containing 3 malicious files is attached. E-mail recipients should never open attachments or click links in suspicious e-mails. Spear-phishing attacks are often used by individuals conducting targeted, rather than opportunistic, attacks.

Those responsible for the attack may be seeking precise information stored on an organization’s network or systems rather than monetary gain. Every organization is at risk of being the target of a spear-phishing attack. This type of activity can best be mitigated with increased cyber security.

When weighing available options pertaining to the implementation of appropriate mitigation strategies, organizations must begin by asking themselves the following:
 If proprietary data, personally identifiable information (PII), research and development related data, e-mail, or other critical information were stolen, what would the current and future consequences be?
 Has my organization evaluated data criticality based on risk? What must be protected in the organization? To mitigate the threat of spear-phishing and other targeted attacks, DHS’s United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) recommends the following actions:
 Always treat unsolicited or unexpected e-mail containing attachments or links with caution, even (and perhaps especially) when the e-mail appears related to known events or projects.
 Monitor for and report on suspicious activity, such as spear phishing e-mails, leading up to significant events and meetings.
 Educate users about social engineering and e-mail phishing related to high-level events and meetings.
 Measure expected network activity levels so that changes in patterns can be more easily identified.

If you have received a suspicious e-mail at work, please report it to your organization in accordance with your organization’s security policy. You may also report this activity to the FBI by filing a complaint at US-CERT can be reached by telephone at 888-282-0870 or by e-mail at US-CERT’s web site can be found online at When available, each report submitted should include the date, time, location, type of activity, number of people, and type of equipment used for the activity, the name of the submitting company or organization, and a designated point of contact.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Carbon Monoxide Safety

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that cannot be seen or smelled and can kill a person in minutes. Carbon monoxide is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned. Hundreds of people die accidentally every year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by appliances that are not used properly or that are malfunctioning. Carbon monoxide can build up so quickly that victims are overcome before they can get help.
Once inhaled, carbon monoxide:
* Can cause permanent brain damage.
* Can cause chest pains or heart attacks in people with heart disease.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
* Headache
* Weakness
* Dizziness
* Confusion
* Fatigue
* Nausea

What should be done with you suspect someone has been poisoned by carbon monoxide?
* Move the person to a place with fresh air immediately.
* Take the person to an emergency room and tell them that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning.

How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?
* Never burn charcoal inside homes, tents, campers, vans, trucks, garages or mobile homes. Do not burn charcoal in the fireplace in the home.
* Never use gasoline powered equipment indoors.
* Never use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.
* Never sleep in a room while using an unvented gas or kerosene heater.
* Make sure that chimneys and flues are in good condition and are not blocked.
* Never idle a car in a garage, even when the garage door is open.
* Carbon monoxide warning devices may provide additional protection, but should not replace the other prevention steps.

30 Days, 30 Ways

It's time once again for the CRESA 30 Days, 30 Ways Preparedness Challenge in honor of National Preparedness Month.

The game is simple, each day one preparedness task will be posted on the website and YOU submit your completion of the task.  Pics or it didn't happen. :)

To learn more visit  You can also find the challenge on Facebook at

The countdown is on, are you ready?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Local Business and Local Teacher Partner to Improve Health

From the Cowlitz County Health Department The Cowlitz County Health Department has partnered with the St. Helen’s Shopping Center and Patrick Carrico, an art teacher at Wahkiakum High School, to revitalize the local store’s appearance. A mural designed by Mr. Carrico will be painted on the side of the building facing 30th Avenue in Longview, WA on Saturday, August 17th, 2013.

The mural will depict the history of food in Cowlitz County beginning with Native American food gathering and advancing to modern times. The purpose of this project is to highlight the store’s dedication to providing healthy options for shoppers and improving the overall health of the community. St. Helen’s Shopping Center was specifically chosen for this project due to its commitment to being a Healthy Neighborhood Store.

The creation and maintenance of healthy neighborhood stores is a national initiative geared towards encouraging local shopping centers to provide fresh produce and other healthy food items for community members. “This project is about relationships and making small, simple changes to improve healthy options,” said Jenn Schapman, Health Educator with Cowlitz Health Department. In addition to Mr. Carrico and St. Helen’s Shopping Center, a number of local coalitions have been instrumental in making the mural a reality. The Highlands Neighborhood Association, Cowlitz Tribe, and City of Longview have been especially supportive of efforts to improve community wellness.

Cowlitz County Contact: PIO (360) 414-5599 x6450 community members are encouraged to help paint the mural! Everyone is welcome to grab a brush and help revitalize the local store; supplies will be provided. 

Please Join Us! DATE: Saturday, August 17th, 2013 TIMES: 10am-3pm LOCATION: St. Helen’s Shopping Center 236 30th Ave, Longview, WA 98632 For more information about the mural or to learn about how to become a Healthy Neighborhood Store in Cowlitz County, please contact Jennifer Schapman at 360.414.5599, ext. 6433 or # # #

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Phone Scam

FYI from A Longview woman says that someone claiming to be from the “Longview Police Fraud Division” called her at home last night, and tried to obtain personal information from the woman. The woman called the Sheriff’s Office from her home on the west end of Longview shortly before 9 pm; she was immediately suspicious about the call, and did not give any information to the caller. The woman also says that she was able to get the caller’s phone number from her caller ID, saying that the call apparently originated from the 509 area code. Followup is being planned.

Friday, August 9, 2013


NWS has now upgraded the RED FLAG WARNING to include the entire state of Washington through 11 pm Sunday. A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions exist. Abundant lightning is forecasted. Also, be extremely cautious with cigarettes or other flammables.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wireless Emergency Alerts

From our friends at Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency 
The Skinny on Wireless Emergency Alerts

Emergency officials now have a new way to send warnings directly to cell phones in affected areas - Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA's). Here is the Skinny on these new alerts. These short messages that may look like a text message, can be sent to all phones within range of designated cell towers through the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS). The alerts will tell you the type of warning, the affected area, and the duration. You'll need to turn to other sources, such as television or your NOAA All-Hazard radio, to get more detailed information about what is happening and what actions you should take.

 ** Please Note - Currently CMAS alerts are set up to alert an entire county if there is an emergency within that area. At this time, there is no way to just select the area that may be affected. The Three Types of Wireless Emergency Alerts: The Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) can be used to broadcast three types of emergency alerts:
PRESIDENTIAL ALERTS - Issued by the U.S. President in the event of a nationwide emergency. IMMINENT THREAT ALERTS - Typically issued by the National Weather Service; in the Portland/Vancouver Metro area, these would include tornado, flooding, volcano, ice storm and blizzard warnings.
 AMBER ALERTS - Issued by law enforcement to share information about child abduction. Is Your Phone

Ready for WEA? If you have an older model phone, you may not receive the Wireless Emergency Alerts. Most newer model phones of the iPhone and Android models are currently coming with this added feature. Check with your service provider to find out if your phone is WEA-capable. AT&T, Cricket, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon all have information about the new alert system on their websites.

Key Things to Know: WEA messages may look like a text, or appear over your home screen. The alert message will include a unique ringtone and vibration. You will never be charged for WEA messages. Emergency alerts will not interrupt any calls or downloads in progress. If you’re on the phone when the alert goes out, you’ll get the message when you end your call. You need not have GPS or any other special features turned on to receive the alerts. The system does not identify your location or phone number — it simply sends the message to all devices in a given area. If you’re on the road and enter an area with an active warning, you’ll receive a WEA message as soon as you come within range of one of the affected cell towers.
Cell Tower Geography May Lead to Over-Warning:
Because cell towers broadcast in a radius or circle, their coverage areas don't line up neatly with county boundaries. This means you may receive warnings for an adjacent county if you are within a few miles of the border. The alerts are delivered directly from cell tower to cell phone through a one-way broadcast. The Commercial Mobile Alert System does not track or locate individual cell phones or phone numbers - it simply broadcasts to all phones within range. 

Unfortunately in some cases, this may result in over-warning. For example, if a weather warning is issued for a particular county, it will go to all towers that serve that county. Towers in urban areas generally serve a radius of two to five miles, and in rural areas up to 10 miles, so the warning message may reach a little beyond the warning boundaries. We have seen issues with this locally with snow alerts this season. Because of the reporting and issuing area covered, areas that really are not affected received snow alerts because they were within areas cell towers that broadcast also to areas that would be affected. Eventually these alerts will get to where we can pin point much more just the affected areas instead of the entire county. Until then this is a small hiccup we will have to deal with

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Avoiding Crime and Fraud Following Disaster

Unscrupulous contractors and others often target areas where disasters cause damage and destruction. Use extra caution to avoid being scammed.

* Check the identification of anyone claiming to be a government official, property inspector, or loss verifier. * Be sure that any contractor you contact is licensed and insured, and has a good reputation.
* Be cautious about any door-to-door salesmen, charity representatives, or contractors asking for cash up front.
* Carefully read all applications for disaster assistance and contracts for home repairs.
* Verify the identity of anyone who asks you for your personal information.
From FEMA Disaster Recovery Guide

Disasters often bring out the best in people, but in a few cases it brings out the ugly.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Blue Green Algae Bloom in Silver Lake

Longview, WA – Cowlitz County Public Health officials are advising the public to avoid direct contact with water at Silver Lake due to a cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) bloom. Because exposure to cyanobacteria can cause disease, public health officials are recommending:
  No swimming, wading or activities that involve water contact
  No wind surfing or sail boarding
  No water contact for animals
  Precautions against contact with water while boating or fishing

 “It is important that when there is a visible algae bloom that people not come into contact with the water to protect their health and avoid possible illness. We have posted signage around the lake for awareness purposes. As long as the signs are posted, people are encouraged to avoid contact with the water. Please do not swim in or drink the lake water at this time until further notice,” said Audrey Shaver, Environmental Health Services Lead.

Silver Lake is not closed to recreational activities but the public is strongly encouraged to avoid contact with the water where the algae bloom is visibly present. The public water supply and private wells around the lake are not affected by the blue green algae bloom. Eating fish out of the lake is considered safe as long as organs like liver and kidney, where toxins can build up, are carefully removed and that people always wash hands after cleaning fish. The Cowlitz County Health Department is actively monitoring the lake, but conditions that promote algae growth and toxin release can change quickly. Monitoring and testing of the lake cannot ensure that all areas of the lake are safe.

About cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) A blue-green algal bloom is a rapid and massive buildup that gives the water a scummy texture and a green color. It may also appear bluish, brownish or reddish green. A bloom may appear during warm weather, usually between May and October. Warm, sunny weather and pollutants can cause algal blooms. Possible sources of pollutants include phosphorus and nitrogen, found in fertilizers and in agricultural, human and animal waste. Some algae may contain toxins that can lead to liver injury, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In addition, the toxins can damage the nervous system and lead to muscle tremors, paralysis and respiratory distress. Skin irritations, allergic reactions, rashes and blisters also are possible. Symptoms may occur within minutes or appear hours or days later following exposure. If you have had contact with the water and experience any of these symptoms, you may wish to contact your health care provider. Because warm- blooded animals, such as cats, dogs and livestock are at risk from exposure, please keep pets out of the lake. To report an algae bloom or symptoms of illness that may be related to algae exposure, please call the Cowlitz County Health Department Environmental Health Services at 360-414-5599, press 1, x6441. Additional information on blue-green is also available online at

Monday, August 5, 2013

Being Prepared is A Bright Idea Drawing Contest!

The Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management and Cowlitz PUD is excited to announce our Prepare Fair “Being Prepared is a Bright Idea” Drawing Contest! The contest invites kids ages 5 to 12 to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters such as earthquakes, floods, wildfires, etc. The contest also encourages kids and their families to take action to prepare!

 We are looking for a creative drawing or design that shows how kids and their families can either prepare for a disaster or how they could help others after a disaster. The picture could represent an idea such as creating an emergency plan or an action such as “drop, cover and hold.” One winner will be chosen out of each age group. The contest is for kids ages 5 to 12.

There will be two age groups: ages 5 to 8 and ages 9 to 12. The Grand Prize Winner from each age group will have their drawing featured on the advertising for Prepare Fair and will win a gift bag. The runner-up from each age group will receive a gift bag. The top ten drawings from each age group will be prominently displayed at the Fair. All drawing submissions must be received by August 31st to be considered for selection. Contest winners will be announced on September 3rd and Prepare Fair flyers will be printed shortly after. To receive an application packet with all of the information, please email Jennifer at

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fire Weather Watch in Effect

The National Weather Service in Portland has issued a bulletin for expected abundant Lightning along the Cascades and Foothills in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington. This has caused them to issue a Fire Weather Watch for our area. (Fire Weather Zone 660) Weather conditions over the next few days, starting tonight at midnight through Thursday evening have a high chance of creating Dry Lightning Storms which could effect and increase the fire danger in our region. Thunderstorms - should increase from the south overnight and continue through Thursday evening. They will be mainly dry to start with a potential for increased precipitation Wednesday night and Thursday. Lightning - These storms have the potential to be prolific lightning producers. Impacts - Increasingly dry forest fuels will be receptive to new fire starts due to lightning.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Androids Attacked by Malware

Android phones are increasingly vulnerable to Malware attacks unless their Operating System (OS) is updated.
If you use a Droid, check its OS-Version in “Settings” and then “About Phone” to find your “System Version.” 
If the version is 2.3.3 or 2.3.7, you need to tap “System Updates” to get a newer OS-Version and defend against the Malware attacks.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cowlitz Co. Sheriff's Office looking for Reserve Deputies

The Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office is accepting applications for new reserve deputies.

Applicants for the volunteer positions must be at least 21 years old, have a valid driver's license, high school diploma or G.E.D and pass a basic physical and written test as well as an in-depth background investigation.

Applicants who pass the background investigation will be required to participate in a reserve academy, which begins in January. Successful candidates must volunteer at least 16 hours each month assisting sheriff's deputies in their day-to-day duties. Reserve deputies must also attend the bi-monthly training sessions.

Applications and explanations of the basic physical and written tests are available at the Sheriff's Office in the Hall of Justice, 312 SW 1st Ave, Kelso, between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays. For more information, contact Deputy Jordan Spencer at 360-577-3092 or go to

The Sheriff's Office will accept applications through October 1.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Looking for a good cause to support?

I received this email from our Cowlitz Chaplaincy group this morning and thought I'd share:

As chaplains we want to thank you for your gifts, duty, and service to our community. It is our privilege to come alongside of you and provide you with support and encouragement in your difficult work.

Cowlitz Chaplaincy is now in its thirtieth year providing support to all first responders and their families, as well as providing crisis intervention to all the citizens of our county free of charge regardless of their faith background.

The chaplaincy has never, nor does it now, receive any public funding. We exist solely by the gifts of faithful individuals, churches, and businesses, as well as law enforcement associations and guilds.

We are writing to you individually to ask for your financial help. The chaplaincy is struggling financially, and if our monthly income does not improve by $3,000.00 per month, we will have to make some tough decisions. Tom and Doug are paid $3,270.00 per month with no benefits. Doug drives the chaplain truck, but it is a 1998, and needs to be replaced. Mario and Tom provide their own vehicles, and their fuel is only paid for the week they are on call. We try to be frugal in all our financial obligations.

If you could commit to sending us $10 or $20 per month, or whatever you are lead to give, we will be able to keep providing the 24/7 crisis response services we have for the last 30 years.

The chaplaincy is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation, so all your donations are fully tax deductible. Our tax exempt number is 91-1312328.

Please feel free to share this email with family members and friends who you feel will like to join you in support of our service to the county.

Thank you so much for your help and support.

Chaplain Mario, Chaplain Tom, and Chaplain Doug