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ITD to participate in mock volcano/earthquake

Three-day training exercise planned May 25-27 in Alta, Wyoming

Scenario The Earth’s bowels have been rumbling for the past month near Mount St. Helens; ground deformation of the lower flanks and crater floor have been detected; carbon dioxide and intermittent small steam explosions have been recorded. U.S. Geological Survey and University of Washington seismologists are concerned that a major event is imminent.

This artificial backdrop will serve as a foundation for Cascade Fury II, a disaster drill that will be staged May 25-27 in Alta, Wyo., east of Driggs, Idaho. The Idaho Transportation Department will join other state and federal agencies in responding to a threat of a major natural disaster.

Representatives are expected from Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana and Utah. Agencies tentatively involved range from the USDOT and Federal Emergency Management Agency to the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Forest Service, Federal Highway Administration, State offices of Homeland Security, Transportation, law enforcement and local governments.

Their task will be responding to a magnitude 7 earthquake that strikes southwest Wyoming, northeast Idaho and the common Utah border. Ash-fall and landslides “seem endless,” according to the fictitious scenario.

The training exercise will begin with presentations by the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Transportation on the morning of Tuesday, May 25 at the Grand Targhee Resort. Afternoon presentations will be given by state emergency organizations. The disaster drill will begin the following morning and continue through late afternoon. An exercise “outbrief” and review will conclude the exercise on May 27.

Organized by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the three-day activity is designed to prepare transportation organizations with the tools and experience to respond to natural disasters.

“Our mission is to provide for the coordination of federal transportation support to state and local governments, voluntary organizations and federal agencies requiring transportation capacity to perform disaster assistance missions,” according to the USDOT’s region 10 web site on Regional Emergency Transportation.

“We also serve as a coordination point between response operations and restoration of the transportation infrastructure.

“Transportation is a vulnerable lifeline in our communities. As Emergency Support Function 1 under the federal response plan, our team provides coordinated crisis management support to quickly restore our transportation infrastructure following a major disaster or emergency. Our mission has never been more vital than it is today.”

ITD will send a number of delegates to the training exercise. The effort, organized by Bryan Smith, Emergency/Disaster Management Coordinator for ITD, said the department’s contingent could include district engineers and emergency coordinators as well as representatives from emergency management, public affairs, ports of entry, State Communications and Aeronautics.