Port Orchard, Washington is located in western Washington on the Kitsap Penninsula in the southern Puget Sound. According to the NATHAN map data, we are located within a zone 3 earthquake region that has the potential to experience earthquakes within the range of 8 on the modifies mercali scale. According to the NATHAN maps, Port Orchard is at a low risk for all other listed natural hazards. Going beyond the required maps, we do experience warmer than average weather during an el nino and wetter that average weather during an el nina. It is my opinion that while the NATHAN maps are informative, the scale at which they present their information is slightly to large to ascertain any accurate information regarding a specific town or city. It is an excellent set of maps if you only desire to view hazards on a large scale.
After viewing the Hungarian National Association RSOE EDIS interactive map, I selected an earthquake located 14.29 miles outside of Los Banos, California. Although the date was off (it occurred today, but they had it listed as tomorrow), the earthquake had a magnitude of 3.5 with a shallow depth of .62 miles. The potential effect of the earthquake was listed as “People do not feel any earth movement”. I found that strange, and I suspect location and geology are to blame, but here, in Washington, it makes the news. This type of event does happen with a slightly regular occurrence in my hometown of Port Orchard. We are in a seismically active region and are “due” for a large quake. Although we are aware of the risks and potential of moderate to large earthquakes in our area, many homes and businesses are still under prepared to handle a large earthquake. Had this same earthquake occur in Port Orchard, the magnitude, timing and duration would have little to no effect on the community at large. Schools and most businesses practice earthquake drills and damage would be minimal. The effect this disaster would have on the population of Port Orchard would also be minimal. Its magnitude is not large enough to create any large or moderate scale discord. Had the magnitude been higher, Port Orchard and Kitsap County at large would be in a very precarious situation as we are largely only connected to the rest of the state by 2 bridges (which would close down until deemed safe) and a small patch of land. In the aftermath of such a large disaster, we would largely be left to fend for ourselves and wait for assistance (which would take time, larger cities first). In that aspect, we are very vulnerable, and that is why our DEM preached the importance of shelter in place and having emergency supplies.
As an ex firefighter I volunteer as a CERT (community emergency response team) leader for the south end of Kitsap County. Through many long hours and days (last year), in conjunction with the Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management and local fire, PUD and law enforcement, we have focused the likelihood of any natural hazard that would have a large impact on the county. Of all the scenarios (omitting terrorism for the sake of the lesson, and earthquakes which were previously discussed), wildfires and drought are on the list of highest concern. Recent warming trends (global warming or otherwise) have caused areas of our county to experience wildfires that we are not fully equipped to handle. To add further complications attributed to warmer and drier weather in the region is Kitsap Counties unique geology. water is a precious and limited resource. We have no snow-pack to supply water to our county, and with the exception of one city and its reservoir, all of our water is sourced from groundwater that is recharged from rainfall. In recent years, well pumps have actually began to suck up salt water from the sound as the aquifers run dry. These are the two largest issues (other issues aside) that we currently face in Port Orchard and the county. There is no ready answer for these situations, but plans are in place to help those most in need, including the elderly and local healthcare facilities (all schools are prepared and have emergency supplies in case of ANY disaster). (Kitsap County Department of Emergeny Management 2016)
In Port Orchard (or any city for that matter), the best way to reduce vulnerability to natural hazards in preparedness. Inform the public, show and teach them how to build and use a survival kit. Increase public awareness to the availability and location of community points of distribution. Create and actively recruit for CERT teams. Build stronger communities and neighborhoods by establishing neighborhood watch programs. All of these things are the absolute core fundamentals when it comes to reducing vulnerability. All of these things can be performed by your average citizen as well. I would encourage everyone to contact their local DEM or fire department and ask about the availability of programs like CERT and neighborhood watch or a community action corp.