The Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) launched the Regional Disaster Resilience and Homeland Security Program in November 2001 with the goal of improving the Pacific Northwest's ability to withstand and recover and to protect its critical infrastructures from all-hazards disasters. Based in Seattle, Washington, PNWER is a statutory, non-profit public/private organization that was formed in 1991 by legislatures of the northwest states of Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Canadian provinces and territories of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Yukon & Northwest Territories.
CRDR to Study & Share Lessons Learned in Regional Wildfire Recovery
The Center for Regional Disaster Resilience is partnering with Northeastern University to identify lessons learned during the recovery from major fires in the region and share best practices that communities and citizens can use to prepare for fires and minimize their impact.
The project will look at the potentially increasing impact of wildfires on critical infrastructures, help identify lessons learned during the recovery from major fires in the region and share best practices that agencies, business & industry and communities can use to prepare for fires and minimize their impact to the infrastructures that support them.
The Pacific Northwest is home to forests that surround numerous urban, suburban and rural communities. Changes in the climate, weather patterns and the close proximity of homes and industry to forests are resulting in fires causing increasingly higher damage to critical infrastructure and communities.
More than 1 million acres burned across Washington State in 2015, the worst fire season in the state's history. In 2016, the Fort McMurray Fires in Northern Alberta destroyed 2,400 homes and displaced thousands of citizens. The fires became the Canada's costliest natural disaster. The human and financial toll of these disasters can take years to recover from and the new "normal" might not be what the community was before a fire.
Wildfires cross local, state and national political borders and require regional federal coordination. Recovery efforts are typically left to the individual jurisdictions with assistance from the state or provincial and federal governments. How to allocate and use this assistance can be a challenge for communities.
Through the grant, the CRDR will seek to:
- Identify lessons learned during the recovery from major fires in the region. This includes the efforts communities have undertaken to rebuild or relocate infrastructure
- Highlight the impacts to critical infrastructure that were impacted by fires and the challenges related to bringing those resources back online
- Look specifically for similarities and differences associated with wildland fires that do or do not impact urban areas
- Conduct one-on-one interviews with experts and stakeholders responsible for the response and recovery efforts in the region impacted by major wildfires
- Conduct or participate in a day long workshop
- Develop a summary issue document of issues and recommendations that will be combined with the efforts
The CRDR is working in partnership with the Meridian Institute, which is leading the project and investigating the impacts of wildland fires in the Eastern United States, specifically the fire that impacted Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
UPCOMING CRDR EVENTS
Blue Cascades VII - Recovery Exercise
When: February 2018
The Blue Cascades VII Tabletop Exercise will focus on recovery of critical infrastructures in the Central Puget Sound. The Homeland Security Region 6 Critical Infrastructure Work Group has identified recovery of a large critical infrastructure systems as an essential component of restoring the region. One major goal of the exercise is to create a broader engagement of infrastructure owners and operators that go beyond geography of King County. Any interested emergency management and critical infrastructure stakeholders are welcome to join the exercise design team.
Please contact Steve Myers at Steve@pnwer.org if you are interested.
2017 Washington State Emergency Management Association Conference (WSEMA)
When: September 19-21, 2017
Where: Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort, 15347 NE Suquamish Way, Suquamish, WA 98392
Save the Date! More information coming soon.
July 2014 - The Pacific Northwest Economic Region was recognized as a model for building a more resilient region in the new DHS National Protection Framework