ITD participates in Oregon tabletop disaster exercise
If an earthquake of 9.0 magnitude were to rock the Seattle area, flood the coastal areas of Washington and Oregon and decimate all of the transportation systems west of the Cascade Mountains, what role would Idaho play in response and recovery?
The scenario was presented to about two-dozen transportation officials, law enforcement officers and medical responders Tuesday during a tabletop disaster exercise in Ontario, Ore.
Nearly a dozen ITD representatives participated in the discussion, along with representatives of the Oregon Department of Transportation from Salem, and a representative from the Federal Highway Administration’s Idaho office.
Under the scenario, torrential rains and river flooding combined with the earthquake and aftershocks to sever all routes across the Cascade Mountains in both states, except for U.S. 20 in northern Oregon.
Idaho likely would join local, state and federal agencies in eastern Oregon to provide assistance with the evacuation of residents via U.S. 20. ITD also would help reopen highways to enable rescue and recovery operations.
The tabletop exercise was among the first coordinated planning sessions that involved bi-state participation. ITD representatives included Bryan Smith and Mel Coulter from Headquarters; Gary Moles and Dan Bryant, from the District 3 office; maintenance workers Ken Couch, Caldwell foreman, Alan Jones, Caldwell lead worker and Eric Copeland, New Plymouth foreman, all of District 3; Kathy Bessey from the State Communications Center in Meridian; and Gus Shanine from the Federal Highway Administration in Boise.
Disaster planning was a prelude to Oregon’s statewide Cascadia Peril earthquake emergency response exercise scheduled for April 27-30. This week’s regional exercise in Ontario focused more on flooding rather than the large-scale devastation of an earthquake.
Its goals, according to ODOT Deputy Director Doug Tindall, included:
Familiarize the capabilities of the local interstate transportation agency staffs to work together during an emergency
Identify the abilities and procedures to communicate when managing traffic control from both sides of the border
Confirm the DMS and 511 operation contacts across state lines
Proceed through the process of an Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) and/or Pacific Northwest Emergency Management Arrangement (PNEMA) mutual aid assistance request