Megaquake rehearsal highlights prominence of Shelton command

Mason County Fairgrounds practices its role as command center for Thurston, Mason, Grays Harbor, Lewis and Pacific countiesAt least 1.27 million Washingtonians might wind up without adequate food and water in a worst-case situation


Materials and paratroopers dropped in to practice reaching separated areas


The biggest earthquake and tsunami drill in Northwest history continued Thursday at a vital command post in Shelton that will serve 5 Washington counties when the big one strikes.


The Mason County Fairgrounds will host the primary operations for Thurston, Mason, Grays Harbor, Lewis and Pacific counties. The site consists of Sanderson Field, which is the five-county locations biggest airplane runway that is near the coast however less likely to suffer tsunami damage.


If the Shelton website is out of commission, the backup airfield would be Bremerton National Airport, stated Lt. Col Clay Braun of the Washington National Guard.


Shelton is a really vital location for us, he stated.


Thursday’s Cascadia Rising drill in Mason County consisted of a mix of National Guardsmen, Army soldiers and Air Force airmen and provided a picture of the bases that will spring up statewide when it comes to a major natural catastrophe.


Service workers manned camping tents for medical care and X-rays. Helicopters dropped products by means of parachute while a handful of paratroopers practiced their landings. These airdrops will be vital when attempting to reach separated pockets of individuals.


The Shelton operations center will coordinate efforts along with the state’s other bases. Military personnel will check roadways and bridges while also assisting regional law enforcement and rescue workers. The base will house a mobile high-frequency radio system that can keep interaction alive when cell towers and phone lines are down.


Some of the soldiers at Thursday s drill in Shelton have helped in previous natural catastrophes such as the 2014 Oso mudslide and 2005 s Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast.


Lt. Col. Adam Iwaszuk of the 96th Troop Command said his experience in New Orleans revealed at least one vital survival idea for the general public in any catastrophe whether it’s a flood, storm, earthquake or tornado.


You should understand an escape route, he stated. The people have to be gotten ready for what they’re most likely to be subject to.


Washington National Guard Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty advises the public to stock up on emergency situation materials such as food, water and medicine to assist make the military’s job easier. He stated the Guard will continue to train and ensure a correct catastrophe response.


Our intent is to keep reviewing this till an actual earthquake strikes us, he stated. Ideally, that’s not for a long time.


Co-sponsored by FEMA, the Cascadia Rising drill began Tuesday and wraps up Friday. It was designed to permit the area to practice emergency situation reaction to a disaster including the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a fault line that stretches in between Northern California and Vancouver Island.


The zone has actually produced earthquakes with a 9.0 magnitude or greater at intervals of 400 to 600 years with the last one occurring in January 1700, according to the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.


And the stakes are high. Washington state alone might deal with countless deaths and injuries. Emergency situation responders likewise approximate that a minimum of 1.27 million people could wind up without adequate food and water in a worst-case scenario.


Hospitals and retirement home might see a combined 80,000 medical evacuees. Main roads such as Interstate 5 and U.S. 101 would likely be unnavigable.


It could take place right now. It could happen 500 years from now, said Lt. Col. Braun about the possible large-scale disaster. This is our rehearsal.