Preparing for Disasters Takes a Team Approach

Over the past few years, the City of Burien has been strengthening its emergency management efforts.

One of the basic functions of your local government is to respond to natural disasters like earthquakes and severe weather. Over the past few years, the City of Burien has been strengthening its emergency management efforts.

Like other jurisdictions, we recently completed an update to our Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP). This plan operates as a high-level blueprint for the City to follow in response to disasters and emergencies.

Leading the development of the plan is the City’s new emergency manager, Eric Torres. A former firefighter, Torres fills a position that has not had dedicated staffing for several years. Emergency management tasks were previously handled by other staff on top of their regular job duties. In the last budget cycle, the Burien City Council approved funding for his position to become permanent.

Completing our CEMP is only one of his many accomplishments. In his two years here, he has developed an operational plan to manage Burien’s daytime severe weather shelter, is re-activating Burien’s emergency operations center (EOC), is working with a local amateur radio club to supplement our communications capabilities during a disaster, and is working with neighboring jurisdictions to bring back the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program.

He also works with local and regional partners to enhance our connection to the wider emergency response network. During extreme weather events, he joins other staff in coordinating with the Burien Severe Weather Shelter, operated by Highline United Methodist Church.

“Building relationships with our neighboring jurisdictions is critical in supporting our own emergency management efforts,” said Torres. “Neighboring communities share many of the same risks from natural disasters, so we all benefit from working together so we can support each other in times of crisis. I’m thankful for the relationships we’ve built with our neighbors as we work towards increasing the preparedness of our communities.”

Emergency preparedness starts with you

A disaster or emergency can happen anywhere, at any time. In an emergency, such as a major storm or earthquake, it will take time for emergency personnel to get to you. It is important to make sure you, your business, and school have personal emergency plans in place.

“All of us—community members, the local government, businesses, and non-governmental organizations—share the responsibility of preparedness,” said Torres. “When we as a community are prepared, we can better respond to disasters in a way that saves lives, reduces impacts to property and the environment, and improves our ability to recover.”

Ways you can prepare:

Emily Inlow-Hood
Communications & Public Engagement Manager at | More posts
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