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Cascadia Rising showcases preparedness skills

Cascadia Rising showcases preparedness skills

The Washington Military Department will join partners across the Northwest for  Cascadia Rising, the largest earthquake exercise in state history next week simulating a 9.0 Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami along the Washington and Oregon coast. Thousands of people, including military personnel, will participate to test a joint response to one of the most complex disaster scenarios facing the Pacific Northwest.

Soldiers and Airmen from the Washington National Guard will be working side-by-side with first responders to test our response capabilities. The Washington Emergency Operations Center will be activated with partner agencies from across the state and many counties, cities and tribes will be activating their own response plans. A full list of partners can be viewed here. The exercise will feature the majority of partners between June 7 to June 10, although some activity will be seen as early as June 6 and as late as June 11.

“We’ve worked tirelessly in Washington state to work with our partners and develop a response plan so we can immediately coordinate assistance and provide help following a catastrophic disaster,” said Major General Bret Daugherty, director of the Washington Military Department and commander of the Washington National Guard.

Conducting successful life-saving and life-sustaining response operations in the aftermath of a Cascadia Subduction Zone disaster will hinge on the effective coordination and integration of governments at all levels – cities, counties, state agencies, federal officials, the military, tribal nations – as well as non-government organizations and the private sector. 

During the exercise, for instance, Renton Municipal Airport will experience a mock liquefaction, where the integrity of the airfield will be in question. Soldiers with the Guard will be deployed to work with civilian authorities and determine the structural safety of the runway. During a real earthquake situation, local airfields will be one of the prime ways to get supplies in and out for the population.

Testing the potential of inoperable ferry terminals, the 181 Brigade Support Battalion will transport to Vashon Island via Army landing craft and assist in search and rescue and developing distribution points.

Elsewhere, members of the 792nd Chemical Company will team up with firefighters in response to a large hazardous materials response at a coastal port.

A water purifying system will be established at St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood, one of several interactions between the agency and hospitals in the region. At Grays Harbor Community Hospital, for instance, hoist training will be done with the 111th Air Support Operations Squadron, necessary training because during a real earthquake, patients might need to be evacuated via helicopter.

At North Beach High School in Ocean Shores, a team from the Kentucky National Guard will be deployed to conduct urban and wide area search and rescue. During a real disaster, the region will see help come in not just from local Guard units, but from across the country.

These scenarios are but a handful of the dozens of specific tasks and missions the Guard will undertake during the exercise.

“Every exercise teaches us something and improves our response,” Daugherty said. “I’m pleased so many partners are participating and are eager to collaborate with us so we can effectively carry out our mission to protect lives and property.”

In the state Emergency Operations Center, the main task will be to coordinate the disaster recovery efforts and figure out ways to communicate with the populace following a disaster.  The communications team with the Washington Military Department met with members of the media to brainstorm communication strategies in April. In addition, members of the Washington Emergency Management Division have been working with amateur radio operators in preparation for this exercise. With a good chance that communication infrastructure will be knocked down following a Cascadia Earthquake, amateur radio operators will be needed.


Still, government can’t do it all. It doesn’t matter how much government prepares – following a Cascadia event, there simply won’t be enough manpower to immediately reach everyone that has been impacted. It’s critical that those in the community use this exercise as an opportunity to test their own personal preparedness. We urge our neighbors to develop a family communication plan, stockpile food and water and keep essential emergency supplies in your home.

Spend the next year, preparing your home and life for a potential disaster. We have booklets available in multiple languages here.

Do you know your neighbors? How about the needs of your neighborhood? Take a few steps to map your neighborhood, figure out which neighbors may need help the most and work together and your own resiliency plans.

Don’t forget your pets or your business and take the first step by signing up for the Great Washington ShakeOut to practice your own earthquake safety procedures.

Take small steps to prepare today.