Seattle City Council
9/9/2005 12:44:00 PM
Lisa Herbold (206) 684-8803
EXECUTIVE POSTPONES PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE REQUEST TO EVALUATE CITY’S EMERGENCY PLANS
SEATTLE – Late yesterday Councilmember Licata’s office was told that a planned briefing from Emergency Operations Center Director Barbara Graff had to be postponed, for unspecified reasons upon the direction of Jordan Royer, the Mayor’s Senior Policy Advisor.
The briefing was to review Seattle’s Emergency Preparedness Plan as well as Seattle’s relief efforts to assist Hurricane Katrina survivors. Although local reports on the May 2003 Top Off exercise (a mock disaster drill) were favorable, recent news reveals that the after action report identified “several areas for improvement.” The Wall Street Journal characterized the gaps in the plan as “craters.” The after action report said "Throughout the first two days of the exercise, disagreement (and confusion) resulted between local, state and federal agencies over whether DHS (Department of Homeland Security) has implemented 'Orange' or 'Red,' and whether the level was applicable nationally or locally."
The City has a number of different plans. The Council has responsibility for review and approval by resolution of two of the primary plans. The Seattle All-Hazards Mitigation Plan, required by FEMA, was reviewed by the Council in February 2004. This plan describes the actions taken by the City to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to human life and property from disasters. The second plan, the Seattle Disaster and Readiness and Response Plan was last reviewed by the Council in September of 2003.
The Council is interested in reviewing all City plans as well as those prepared by King County, Washington State and the Federal Government. Recent events in the Gulf Coast reveal that jurisdictional coordination is critical. On Monday, September 19, FEMA will attend Council briefing meeting. Today’s planned briefing with Emergency Operations Center Director Barbara Graff was intended to begin the discussion with local efforts and create a foundation of information, not only for the Council but for the public. The committee discussion will still take place and Councilmember Licata intends to lead a discussion about the Council’s framework for review of these issues. The agenda will be amended to place this item first for discussion.
Although it appears that no one from the Executive will be present for today’s Committee briefing, the Mayor’s office has offered individual, private briefings with Councilmembers. Councilmember Licata has said that he believes that, “Citizens have been contacting us all week to inquire about the City’s planning efforts. It is absolutely critical that this information be broadly available to all members of the public, not just the Council.”