Renton officials learn about disaster recovery at four-day exercise


Renton officials joined those from FEMA, The Boeing Co., King County and Auburn, Kent and Tukwila for a four-day disaster recovery exercise last week.

More than 250 private, public and volunteer agency participants met at Boeing’s Seattle facility for an intensive four-day Integrated Emergency Management Course (IEMC), conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Emergency Management Institute.

The course focused on the critical and sometimes overlooked transition between the first days of a response and the long-term demands of whole community recovery, according to a press release.

Public officials and emergency managers were placed in a realistic, fast-paced crisis scenario within a structured learning environment to validate real-world disaster response and recovery plans, according to FEMA Regional Administrator Ken Murphy.

“The scenario simulated a major flood in the Green River Valley, but it could just as easily have been an earthquake scenario, widespread flu epidemic, or even a terrorist strike,” said Murphy. “The scenario was designed to push existing plans to their limits, to provide maximum learning opportunities.”

Elected officials, including King County Executive Dow Constantine, Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis, Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke, Renton Mayor Denis Law, and Tukwila Mayor Jim Haggerton learned from nationally recognized disaster experts and put the newly developed Regional Disaster Recovery Plan through its paces.

“Disaster recovery involves restoring communities to a ‘new normal’ following a disaster,” said King County Office of Emergency Management Director Hillman Mitchell. “It’s about getting assistance to people in need, getting critical infrastructure and services working again, and restoring business continuity.”

The private sector is also an important stakeholder in regional response, recovery and resiliency, according to Boeing Vice President and Chief Security Officer David Komendat.

“It is important that Boeing effectively partner with state and federal agencies as well as our municipal neighbors so we have our emergency plans and procedures in place well before we need to rely on them,” said Komendat. “Boeing operations depend heavily on the availability of major transportation links like air, rail, shipping and highways; all of which are essential to our business and economic vitality. We all have a vested interest in protecting this critical infrastructure and restoring it as soon as possible following a disaster.”

The course concluded with an “After Action Review” that identified what worked well, areas for improvement, and how to incorporate them into a revised recovery plan.

King County has information online for individuals, families, communities and businesses to prepare for a disaster.

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