Friday, October 30, 2009

Swine Flu Vaccine

H1N1 Vaccine Locations

The H1N1 vaccine continues to trickle into the state. So far, Oregon has received about 6 percent of the vaccine necessary for the people in priority groups, which accounts for about half of Oregon's population, according to reports.

Five private manufacturers are delivering the vaccine around the country as soon as it is produced. In Oregon, counties and tribes request the supply and decide how to distribute it to individual health care providers and clinics. The amount of vaccine is allocated to counties on a per-capita basis.

For most people, a case H1N1 flu is no worse than seasonal flu, lasting about 7-10 days with the vast majority of people getting better without seeking medical attention.

Since Sept. 1, 2009, 482 people in 24 counties have been hospitalized in Oregon with influenza-like illness; 15 people in eight counties have died.

Oregon Public Health has activated the emergency operations center full time to coordinate the state's response to pandemic H1N1 and ensure that the most up-to-date information is available. The center is working closely with local health departments and monitoring hospital capacity and supplies.

Hospitals and health care providers in some Oregon counties have experienced a surge of patients, but so far there is enough capacity to care for people with symptoms severe enough to require hospitalization. On Oct. 26, President Obama declared a national state of emergency in response to pandemic H1N1. This action allows hospitals to waive certain regulatory requirements so they can respond better to the emergency, such as making it easier to transfer patients between facilities.

The Columbia Health District will hold a walk-in clinic for free H1N1 (swine flu) vaccinations Friday at the public health office, 2370 Gable Road in St. Helens, Ore. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or until the vaccine runs out. Both nasal spray and injectable vaccines are available. Priority will be given to people considered at greatest risk from H1N1:

• Pregnant women

• Caregivers for children under 6 months of age

• Health care and emergency medical services personnel, such as firefighters, law enforcement officers

• Children 6 months through 18 years of age

• Young adults 19 through 24 years of age

Adults age 25 through 64 who have higher risk health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, chronic heart disease, compromised immune system or liver or kidney disease.

Swine Flu Emergency Reshapes Hospital Plans
PORTLAND- The national emergency declaration by President Barack Obama has little to do with the speed the H1N1 vaccine wil be produced and distributed. But it does affect the way medical centers are able to treat patients.

The declaration loosens some federal regulations regarding patient privacy, access to care, and the movement of patients from one facility to another.

Leaders at Legacy Health System have been discussing emergency treatment options for some time. They met Monday to make potential plans that the declaration allows.

"It allows hospitals, nursing homes all kinds of medical facilities all kinds of alternatives to deal with what could be burgeoning patient loads", according to Brian Terrett, Legacy's Director of Public Relations, Marketing and Communications.
The tents that are set up outside Legacy Emmanuel and other medical centers are an example of what the declaration allows more easily: patient privacy regulations being eased means a triage center can be set up in a more public place like a parking lot.

The declaration could allow patient treatment centers in places as large as a warehouse or even Memorial Coliseum. For now, Legacy is looking at smaller venues. A corner building next to Good Samaritan Hospital has a vacancy; the former FedEx Kinkos could become an H1N1 patient center under the emergency declaration, if Legacy decides it needs it. For now, it doesn't.
H1N1 Vaccine: By Appointment Only
SALEM -Marion County received its first supply of the H1N1 vaccine earlier this month.

Now, it's beginning to distribute the supply. Instead of long lines and frustrated patients, the county is taking appointments to schedule its distribution.

Right now, the county is asking people to call your health care provider first to see if it's distributing the vaccine too. If not, Marion County says the H1N1 vaccine is only available to people in the high risk priority groups.

If you're pregnant, care for children younger than 6 months old, all children between 6 months-24 years old, or adults with chronic illness are considered to be among the highest risk.

Marion County will begin taking more appointments, by phone, beginning at 8:30 AM Monday morning.

H1N1 Vaccine Appointment Phone Number: 503-584-4870.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oregon Emergency Management is planning for future

Statesman Journal column

October 28, 2009

The 911 emergency call system has been around so long that many take it for granted. But there is more to the 911 system that we should know.

There are 50 911 call centers across Oregon. They are called Public Safety Answering Points, and equipment connects to the local telephone exchange carrier. PSAP equipment must be upgraded about every five years.

Oregon Emergency Management is responsible for coordination of the PSAPs and the 911 call-taking equipment and is looking ahead to the needs of Oregonians in the future. During the next few years as equipment is scheduled for upgrade or replacement, OEM is making sure that all equipment is "next generation capable." This means that when this new complex network is available, we will be able to not only call 911, but also text message the PSAPS.

During the Virginia Tech shooting, students sent texts to the 911 center not knowing that they were not getting through. This system is going to be valuable in getting emergency messages to the PSAPs faster and more effectively during different types of emergencies.

Jennifer Bailey, formerly of FEMA, is the public affairs coordinator of Oregon Emergency Management. She may be reached at (503) 378-2911, Ext. 22294 or

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Columbia River Protected by Weakened Wall

A pair of jetties, jutting into the boiling Pacific from the north and south edges of the river’s 2-mile-wide mouth, stand as thin lines of defense against the bar’s worst instincts. The jetties tamp down waves from the ocean. They also serve as a barricade against beach sand that would otherwise quickly clog the relatively narrow shipping channel and close the gateway to ports more than 100 miles upriver in Vancouver and Portland.

Battered by storms, the jetties originally constructed from huge boulders mined in Camas are now eroding away.

The government bought some time with a series of repairs beginning four years ago, but that was only temporary. “It’s already deteriorating pretty badly,” Torjusen said. Meanwhile, the risk of a jetty breach increases with each winter storm.

Maintaining the jetties is imperative.

Together, they serve as the Columbia’s front gate, welcoming 2,000 ships per year — nearly 500 bound for Vancouver — and billions of dollars worth of trade. When the bar shuts down, it freezes a conveyer belt of commerce from the ships that enter the river to barges and trains carrying grain from as far as Kansas.

“It’s a little frightening to know that if one of those jetties failed, it would all stop very quickly,” said Larry Paulson, the Port of Vancouver’s executive director.

Next month, the Army Corps of Engineers will unveil a rehabilitation plan involving the placement of a million tons of Volkswagen-sized rocks, as well as several perpendicular rock “groins” designed to shore up the jetties’ sand foundations. Repairs will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Click the link to find out more about this project.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


News Release from: Oregon State Police

Posted: October 27th, 2009 9:31 AM
Photo/sound file:

Big home football games, excitable trick-or-treaters, and costumed party-goers – these are just a few reasons why this Saturday - Halloween – might be a little more dangerous for people out driving, walking or riding along Oregon's roads. Irresponsible celebrating and other distractions can quickly make the evening a frightening one, so the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), Oregon State Police (OSP) and partner law enforcement agencies urge parents, children and motorists to be alert and drive sober.

"With Halloween falling on a Saturday, we want to make sure one foolish decision doesn't turn that night into a real-life horror story," said Captain Joel Lujan, director of the OSP Patrol Services Division. "Don't take the party to the roadways, putting trick-or-treaters and responsible motorists at risk."

Halloween is a particularly deadly night due to impaired drivers. ODOT Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data reveals a sobering reminder and startling fact that 90 percent of the fatalities (10) on Halloween night (6:00 p.m., October 31st to 5:59 a.m., November 1st) between 1998 and 2008 in Oregon occurred in alcohol and/or drug-involved traffic crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2008, 58 percent of all highway fatalities across the nation on Halloween night last year involved a driver or a motorcycle rider with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, which is illegal in every state.

If the challenge of young children running through neighborhoods isn't enough, the Interstate 5 corridor and several roads around Eugene and Corvallis will see a significant traffic increase associated with UO and OSU home football games. Planning, patience and attentiveness are key to making any trip a safe one this weekend.

"We've got a perfect opportunity, with football fans and trick-or-treaters celebrating together to remind motorists: please drive sober and pay attention to the task at hand," said ODOT Director Matthew Garrett. "We want everyone to be safe and enjoy the weekend."

Law enforcement agencies around the state want to help make Halloween safe for all. OSP, working with county and city police agencies, is putting extra patrols out, especially along the Interstate 5 corridor.

"Our goal is to keep Halloween night from becoming a true nightmare for someone," said Lujan.

The cooperative law enforcement effort looking out for ‘scary' drivers is part of the aggressive "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest." national campaign, October 25 – 31. OSP troopers reported last year over the Halloween night the arrest of 15 DUII drivers. In support of the enforcement effort, ODOT will post a reminder on many variable messages signs for several days leading up to Halloween night to "Drive Sober. Save lives this Halloween".

ODOT, OSP and local law enforcement agencies offer these simple reminders for a safer Halloween:

For all drivers:

* Slow down in residential neighborhoods and obey all traffic signs and signals.
* Slow down on streets where there are no sidewalks and children are walking on or near the shoulder of the road.
* Watch for children walking in or near the street or on medians or curbs.
* Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and cautiously. Have child passengers enter and exit cars on the curb side, away from traffic.

For adult traffic safety:

* Be responsible — never drive impaired.
* If you plan to drink, choose your sober driver before going out.
* If you plan on going to one of the football games, leave early, be patient and don't get distracted at any time while driving.
* Once impaired, use mass transit, call a cab or ask a sober friend to get you home.
* If all else fails, just stay where you are and sleep it off.
* Always buckle up — it's still your best defense against an impaired driver.
* If hosting a Halloween party, make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.

For parents and children:

* Dress children in bright costumes. Use reflective tape or stickers on dark costumes.
* Apply face paint or cosmetics appropriate for children directly to the face. It is safer than a loose-fitting mask that can obstruct a child's vision.
* If a mask is worn, cut the eyeholes large enough for full vision.
* Have children carry flashlights or glow sticks to improve their visibility.
* Secure hats so they will not slip over children's eyes.
* Remind children to cross streets only at intersections.
* Teach them to stop and look for cars, looking to the left, right and left again before crossing, and then to keep looking both ways for cars while they cross.
* Teach them never to dart into a street or cross a street from between parked cars.

Elementary age pedestrians are at highest risk because they:

* Have a field of vision one-third narrower than an adult's.
* Are unable to determine the direction of sounds.
* Cannot accurately judge the speed or distance of moving vehicles.
* Overestimate their abilities.
* Are easily hidden by parked cars, bushes, leaf piles, trash bins, etc.

(For local Halloween plans, contact your local OSP office and law enforcement agencies)

Everyone plays an important role in keeping our roads and children safe. Immediately report aggressive, dangerous and intoxicated drivers to the Oregon State Police at 1-800-24DRUNK (1-800-243-7865) or call 9-1-1.

Swine Flu Emergency Reshapes Hospital Plans
Reported by: Tim Gordon
Last Update: 8:45 am

PORTLAND- The national emergency declaration by President Barack Obama has little to do with the speed the H1N1 vaccine wil be produced and distributed. But it does affect the way medical centers are able to treat patients.

The declaration loosens some federal regulations regarding patient privacy, access to care, and the movement of patients from one facility to another.

Leaders at Legacy Health System have been discussing emergency treatment options for some time. They met Monday to make potential plans that the declaration allows.

"It allows hospitals, nursing homes all kinds of medical facilities all kinds of alternatives to deal with what could be burgeoning patient loads", according to Brian Terrett, Legacy's Director of Public Relations, Marketing and Communications.

The tents that are set up outside Legacy Emmanuel and other medical centers are an example of what the declaration allows more easily: patient privacy regulations being eased means a triage center can be set up in a more public place like a parking lot.

The declaration could allow patient treatment centers in places as large as a warehouse or even Memorial Coliseum. For now, Legacy is looking at smaller venues. A corner building next to Good Samaritan Hospital has a vacancy; the former FedEx Kinkos could become an H1N1 patient center under the emergency declaration, if Legacy decides it needs it. For now, it doesn't.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lots of Snow Out West

Severe Storms and Blizzard

The big story this week will be the storm coming through the West into the western Great Lakes. Many areas of the West will get heavy snow and high winds. Please see Ken Clark's blog for California weather specifics. Some comments from me...

1. Denver will get heavy snow and probably 6-12 inches by Wednesday into Thursday...

2. Areas from eastern Oregon to Utah and Wyoming will have 2-6 inches of snow.

3. Severe weather will develop from Missouri to Texas Thursday and Friday. Looks to me that a good outbreak of wind damage and tornadoes may occur.

4. High winds will hit the Great Lakes region Friday into Saturday. Winds will be gusting 40-60 mph.

5. Winnipeg will have a blizzard Friday and Saturday that will shut down the city the way I see it right now. I can see over a foot of snow with winds over 50 mph.

Update on Flu vacines in parts of Portland Metro area

The H1N1 vaccine remains in short supply nationwide due to delays by manufacturers producing the vaccine.

In the Portland area, the delays mean some public clinics have been canceled. Other clinics are offering only a limited number of doses. The small amounts currently available are being targeted toward children under five years of age and pregnant women, who are six times more likely to die from H1N1. Some counties are also reaching out to school children.

The production delay has led CDC officials to revise downward their vaccine delivery targets by 25 percent through the end of October. CDC officials say the revision reflects the unpredictability of the manufacturing process, which involved growing the virus in chicken eggs. Two manufacturers achieved smaller yields from this process than they had projected.

Health officials continue to expect that shipments will ramp up and availability of the vaccine will increase.

Shipments arriving in the Portland metro area this week will be about the same size as last week’s batch. Here is the rough breakdown of what is expected here:

County Doses
Clackamas 3,100
Multnomah 6,000
Washington 4,500

Earlier this month marked the first time that some clinics received injectable vaccine, which contains a H1N1 virus that has been “inactivated” or killed.

Until now, the only form of vaccine available was the FluMist nasal spray. Because FluMist contains a live flu virus, it is only appropriate for healthy people age 2 to 49. Pregnant women and children under age 2 need the injectable vaccine, which contains virus that has been “inactivated” or killed.

From Sept. 1 throught Oct. 21 , a total of 449 people in Oregon were hospitalized and 15 died from Influenza A virus. Not all of these patients were tested for H1N1, but nationally nearly all samples that have been laboratory sub-typed in recent weeks were H1N1.

All Influenza A cases, Sept. 1 through Oct. 21
County Hospitalizations Deaths
Clackamas 46 0
Clark and Region IV 15 0
Columbia 0 0
Multnomah 62 1
Washington 54 0

Schools throughout the region report seeing an increase of absences due to influenza-like illness.

Oregon has now adopted a temporary rule allowing some emergency medical technicians and paramedics to administer flue vaccine to the general public. Before, EMTs could only vaccinate other EMTs. Clark County, Wash., adopted similar rules.

State and county epidemiologists are monitoring school absences and reports of hospitalizations to track the spread of the virus.

Public information officers regionally are pooling information and coordinating availability of key spokesperons in response to requests from news organizations.

OBAMA declared H1N1 flu emergency

Washington (CNN) -- President Obama has declared a national emergency to deal with the "rapid increase in illness" from the H1N1 influenza virus.

"The 2009 H1N1 pandemic continues to evolve. The rates of illness continue to rise rapidly within many communities across the nation, and the potential exists for the pandemic to overburden health care resources in some localities," Obama said in a statement.

"Thus, in recognition of the continuing progression of the pandemic, and in further preparation as a nation, we are taking additional steps to facilitate our response."

The president signed the declaration late Friday and announced it Saturday.

Calling the emergency declaration "an important tool in our kit going forward," one administration official called Obama's action a "proactive measure that's not in response to any new development." Having trouble finding vaccine? Share your story

Another administration official said the move is "not tied to the current case count" and "gives the federal government more power to help states" by lifting bureaucratic requirements -- both in treating patients and moving equipment to where it's most needed.

The officials didn't want their names used because they were not authorized to speak on the record.

Obama's action allows Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius "to temporarily waive or modify certain requirements" to help health care facilities enact emergency plans to deal with the pandemic.

Those requirements are contained in Medicare, Medicaid and state Children's Health Insurance programs, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy rule.

Since the H1N1 flu pandemic began in April, millions of people in the United States have been infected, at least 20,000 have been hospitalized and more than 1,000 have died, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Watch how to find out if you have H1N1

Frieden said that having 46 states reporting widespread flu transmission is traditionally the hallmark of the peak of flu season. To have the flu season peak at this time of the year is "extremely unusual."

The CDC said 16.1 million doses of H1N1, or swine flu, vaccine had been made by Friday -- 2 million more than two days earlier. About 11.3 million of those had been distributed throughout the United States, Frieden said.

"We are nowhere near where we thought we would be," Frieden said, acknowledging that manufacturing delays have contributed to less vaccine being available than expected. "As public health professionals, vaccination is our strongest tool. Not having enough is frustrating to all of us."

Frieden said that while the way vaccine is manufactured is "tried and true," it's not well-suited for ramping up production during a pandemic because it takes at least six months. The vaccine is produced by growing weakened virus in eggs.

Find this article at:

Friday, October 23, 2009

KTVZ Flu Tip - When To See A Doctor

Over at KTVZ they are running an article about flu symptoms and whether or not you should see your doctor.

"So far, the H1N1 flu is not more serious than regular flu, so if you are sick, stay home to avoid spreading it to others and take good care of yourself," says Mel Kohn, M.D., Oregon Public Health director. "If you have other conditions that put you at high risk or if symptoms get serious, that's when you should call your doctor." (See list of conditions below.*)

Some health conditions increase the risk of severe illness from influenza:
• Pregnancy;
• Long-term aspirin therapy in children and adolescents (aged 6 mos.--18 yrs.);
• Chronic lung disease (including asthma), heart, kidney, liver, blood, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes);
• Immuno-suppression (including that caused by medications or HIV);
• Any condition (e.g., cognitive dysfunction, spinal cord injuries, seizures or neuromuscular disorders) that affects respiratory function or handling of respiratory secretions or that increases the risk for aspiration; and
• Residence in a nursing home or other chronic-care facility.Also, children aged 6-59 months (up to 5 years) and adults aged 65 years and older are considered at increased risk for severe illness from influenza.People who have severe illness or are at high risk for flu complications should contact a health care provider who will determine whether treatment is needed. If you are directed to see a health care provider, ask if the facility has any special procedures for flu sufferers who visit.

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
• Fast breathing or trouble breathing;
• Bluish or gray skin color;
• Not drinking enough fluids;
• Severe or persistent vomiting;
• Not waking up or not interacting;
• So irritable that the child does not want to be held;
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough;
• Fever with a rash.

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath;
• Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen;
• Sudden dizziness;
• Confusion;
• Severe or persistent vomiting;
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and cough.

Go to the KTVZ page for the full article. Stay home - take care of yourself - try not to expose other people. Most people will recover within a week.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Preparedness should be a lifestyle

We received a message from one of our readers this week with some great ideas about being prepared for emergencies large and small.

Dwight Racke has experienced all types of disasters, including hurricanes and earthquakes. He thinks disaster preparedness should be a lifestyle.

Here are some of Racke's suggestions:

-People should think of the family car as an RV. Keep a box full of snacks and bottled water under one of the seats. When running errands with active kids, they can snack instead of becoming crabby. (I did get an interesting call on this one saying this is why American's are Obese - especially state workers, but I think you get the point)

-Nighttime sporting events often get chilly, but you could have your lap blankets tucked away in the trunk.

-Emergency preparedness supplies always should be handy for small or large disasters and should be enough to help you "camp out" if needed following a larger event.

As Racke said in his e-mail, most of "disaster preparedness" boils down to camping.

That's a great way to think about it. You need the same items that you would take if you were on a camping trip.

Keep your camping gear stored away from the home. If an earthquake strikes and your family has to flee the house, you may be able to get to your camping gear and have everything you need to get by for two weeks.

During many large scale disasters, some areas are so devastated that people have to camp out on their front lawns for days or weeks waiting for assistance.

Let's do as Racke suggests and take baby steps in the way of disaster preparedness.

Jennifer Bailey, formerly of FEMA, is the public affairs coordinator of Oregon Emergency Management. She may be reached at (503) 378-2911, Ext. 22294 or

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Winter Weather Warning

The Pacific Northwest does not get hurricanes, but it does get hurricane force winds.

Across eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, Idaho and Montana:
In January 2008 a powerful wind storm in Walla Walla, WA and Milton Freewater, OR is a recent and striking example. Wind gusts exceeding 70 mph caused widespread damage. Hundreds of trees were downed, power lines were damaged, vehicles were blown off the road, and even houses were damaged during this event.

Across western Washington and western Oregon: The best example was the nation's strongest non-tropical windstorm ever---the Columbus Day storm of 1962. This storm produced hurricane force winds across western Oregon and Washington. Winds of 150 mph (category 4 hurricane force) winds rocked the coastal areas, killing 46 persons, injuring hundreds more and knocking out power for several million people. Damage was widespread, with buildings, schools and thousands of homes either destroyed or damage. Other notable windsstorms of the past: the Great Olympic Blowdown of 1921, the November 13th/15th 1981 Twin Wind Storms, the Inauguration Day storm of 1993, and most recently the Great Coastal Gale of December 2007.

Are you ready for the next windstorm?
Windstorms bring down trees and power lines, and produce much blowing debris. Falling trees and blowing debris cause the most fatalities.

Be sure to have your 3-day emergency preparedness kit ready at home, school and/or at work. This kit should include water and non-perishable food for each person, and AM/FM battery-powered radio, along with flashlights and extra batteries. Be sure to include vital medications, sleeping bags, blankets and warm clothing.

In addition, inspect your home and grounds each year for nearby trees that may fall and damage your home. Ensure the trees are healthy and trimmed, and you home, school or business is structurally sound. It is also a good idea to bring lightweight items in out of the weather, or tie them down. During strong gusty winds, such items can become dangerous missiles. These precautions will help ensure that you are ready for the next big blow.


Additional Links of Interest...
Pacific NW Windstorm Brochure (.pdf)
Past Windstorms of Oregon, including Columbus Day Storm
Historic Windstorm Photographs (mostly NW Oregon/SW Washington)
Each local office may have photographs online (see office links below)

Remember, in times of hazardous winter weather, you can get all these vital NOAA/National Weather Service messages via NOAA Weather Radio, your favorite local media, or through NOAA's National Weather Service websites.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dept. of Health and Human Services - new resource for H1N1 Swine Flu

The Department of Health and Human Services Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships has announced a new resource for community and faith-based organizations: H1N1 Flu: A Guide for Community & Faith-based Organizations.

Community and faith-based organizations are essential partners in comprehensive state and local flu response, and this guide was created to support them this flu season. The guide provides specific action steps that community and faith-based organizations can take to help keep communities healthy during flu season, including:

  • Communicating important information about flu,

  • Supporting vaccination efforts,

  • Linking vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations to vital information and resources,

  • Visit to download the guide.
  • Winter Weather Tips from NOAA

    During most winters, storms bring long periods of heavy rain and snow to the Pacific Northwest. In addition to extended rain, flooding can also occur due to ice jams, where large flows of ice pile up. This pile-up of ice can act like a dam, causing water to back up and flood. Warm weather can also cause snow on the middle and higher mountains to melt, putting more water into already rain-swollen streams.

    Flooding causes more deaths and prpoerty damage in the U.S. than any other severe weather related event. The majority of flood related deaths occur when people become trapped in automobiles while attempting to drive through flooded areas. Flowing water can be deceptively strong, and pack a powerful punch. As little as six inches of water is enough to float a small car and carry it away. There have been many floods in the history of the Northwest, which include the devastating floods of December 1964 and February 1996. Most recently, in Dec 2007 and Jan 2009, significant flooding struck the Pacific Northwest, closing a twenty mile stretch of interstate 5 near Chehalis Washington under 10 feet of water. Coastal flooding can also occur during the winter months, and poses a threat to life and property. Winds generated from very strong Pacific storms can drive ocean water inland, much like a storm surge, and can cause significant flooding along the immediate coastal areas and estuaries.

    A Flood refers to a gradual rise in the water along a stream, river, wash or over an extended period of time. Floods result from heavy rainfall, river ice jams, snowmelt. They can erode an entire mountain side, roll boulders the size of trucks, tear out trees, destroy buildings, wash out roads and bridges, and cause the loss of lives. Rain weakened soils can also result in mudslides capable of closing major highways.

    Flood Watch...
    This means that flooding is possible with the watch area. You should remain alert and be ready to evacuate on a moment's notice.

    Flood Warning...
    This means that flooding has been reported, or is imminent. When a flood warning is issued for your area, act quickly to save yourself. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Go to higher ground, or climb to safetly. Move to a safe area before access is cut off by rising flood waters.

    Nearly half of all flood fatalities are auto-related. Water that is two feet deep will carry away most automobiles. Never attempt to drive through a flooded roadway. The road bed may be washed out beneath the water, and you could be stranded or trapped. If the vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.

    The best advice if you are in a vehicle: TURN AROUND…Don't DROWN.

    Thursday, October 15, 2009

    NWS Issues Special Weather Statement for Oregon

    The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement today for Northern Oregon and Southern Washington. Heavy rain is expected over the next 48 hours, bringing between 1 and 5 inches depending upon location.

    Rivers are not expected to flood, but heavy rains in the coastal range often cause mudslides and localized flooding of streams. We recommend the following:

  • Make sure your emergency kit is ready and you have extra food and water, especially if you are in a remote location and can be stranded by flooding or slides
  • Pay attention to nearby hills and streams in the event of a mudslide or flood
  • If you do drive in the heavy rain, drive slowly and avoid standing water - pools of dirty water are usually much deeper then they appear.
  • If you have to go out on foot, do not ever attempt to cross running flood waters or mud slides, they are very dangerous and can wash away anyone.

    Statement as of 2:29 PM PDT on October 15, 2009

    ... Heavy rain expected Friday night and Saturday...

    An unusually wet early season system is expected to dump
    several inches of rain over the area early this weekend. The bulk
    of the rain will fall from late Friday afternoon through Saturday
    as the system taps into a tropical air mass. Models are in
    agreement on bringing the front onshore and then stalling it...
    although details on where the heaviest rain will fall are still
    evolving. As the front stalls the system will usher in a warm and
    moist air mass and consequently wring it out over northwest
    Oregon and southwest Washington. Rainfall accumulations are
    expected to be 2 to 5 inches in the Coast Range... 1 to 2 inches
    northern portions of Willamette Valley... 2 to 4 inches in the
    South Washington and north Oregon Cascades... and around an inch

    Since this system is coming early in the year when rivers are near
    their Summer lows... river flooding should not be much of a
    concern. However... local areas may see higher than expected
    accumulations and therefore local flooding of small streams
    remains a possibility. Remember to maintain a higher awareness
    level and keep informed on this developing scenario.

    Monitor NOAA Weather Radio or weather.Gov/Portland for the latest
    information... forecasts... and warnings.
  • Winter Weather Tips from NOAA

    Exposure to cold can cause frostbite or hypothermia, and become life-threatening. Infants and the elderly are the most susceptible. When a winter storm approaches, stay inside, or seek shelter if caught outdoors.

    Other tips to follow to better protect you and others:

    When using an alternate heat from a fireplace, wood stove or space heater, be sure to use fire safeguards and properly ventilate. Close off unneeded rooms in the building. Stuff towels or rags in cracks and under doors.

    Cover windows at night to minimize loss of heat through the windows.
    Eat and drink sufficient amounts of water. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Fluids prevent dehydration.

    Wear layers of loose fitting, lightweight and warm clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating and perspiration and subsequent chill.

    Make sure pets have plenty of food, water and proper shelter from the elements.

    If caught outdoors:

    Find shelter immediately.
    Try to stay dry, and cover all exposed body parts.
    In no shelter is available, build a lean-to, windbreak, or a snow cave to protect yourself from the wind
    Build a fire for heat and to attract attention for rescue.
    Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect heat.
    Melt snow for drinking water.
    Avoid eating snow, as this will lower your body temperature.

    If traveling:

    This best way to avoid becoming stranded or stuck during a winter storm is to avoid travel during the storm.
    Stay informed on the current weather, forecasts and warnings.
    Obtain the latest warnings and forecasts from your NOAA Weather Radio, The National Weather Service website [ ], or your favorite media news source.
    If you must travel, let someone else ( who is not traveling ) know of your travel plans.
    Weatherize your vehicle now, before rough winter weather arrives. Make sure your vehicle safety set includes: adequate tires, chains, tow rope, sand or cat litter for traction, shovel, tool kit, windshield scraper and brush, battery cables, first aid kit, flashlight and extra batteries, a blanket or sleeping bag, extra clothes, waterproof matches, high-calorie snacks and an empty can to melt snow for drinking water.

    If you become stranded while traveling:

    STAY WITH YOUR VEHICLE, and do not panic.
    If with other people, take turns sleeping.
    Run the motor every hour for about 10 minutes to maintain warmth, but keep window open a bit to prevent buildup of carbon monoxide.
    Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow.
    Keep a brightly colored cloth tied to the antenna, in order for others to find your car.
    Exercise periodically by vigorously moving arms, legs, toes and fingers.

    In the Mountains and higher Terrain:
    Avalanches become a possibility during the winter, especially below steep slopes. Avalanches occasionally come down across roads, with little or no warning. Caution is advised when travelling along avalanche prone roads, especially after heavy snow has fallen or during periods of rapid snowmelt.

    Roads which appear clear in the wintertime may actually be coated with a thin layer of ice, commonly called black ice. This nearly invisible ice layer can cause you to rapidly lose control of your vehicle. Black ice is most common during the nighttime hours into very early morning. If you detect black ice, reduce your speed!

    Cold and its Effects on You:
    Wind Chill: this is not the actual temperature, but rather how wind and cold combined feel on exposed skin. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, thus lowering your body temperature. Animals are also affected by wind chill, but cars, plants and other objects are not.

    Frostbite: this is damage to body tissue due to exposure to extreme cold. A wind chill of -20 degrees Fahrenheit will cause frostbite in just 30 minutes. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ears and even the tip of your nose. If symptons are detected, get medical help immediately. If you must wait for help, slowly re-warm the affected areas. If the person is also showing signs of hypothermia, warm the body core before the extremities.

    Hypothermia: this is a condition brought on when the body temperatures drops to less than 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It can kill. For those who survive, there are likely to be lasting kidney, liver and pancreas problems. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. Take the person's temperature, and if it is below 95F, seek medical care immediately.


    Remember, in times of severe weather, you can get all these vital NOAA/National Weather Service messages via NOAA Weather Radio, your favorite local media, or through NOAA's National Weather Service websites.

    For questions about local Severe Weather Preparedness, contact your local NOAA National Weather Service Office:

    Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    Last minute cleanup of yard debris can be dangerous

    October 14, 2009
    Jennifer Bailey • October 14, 2009

    Summer is gone, and even though there is still some good weather, we know the rains are coming.

    You might be doing some last-minute cleanup of the yard now, so here is a little safety reminder.

    According the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health each year, about 36,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for injuries from using chain saws.

    Last-minute summer cleanup and debris removal after storms can be hazardous. Chain-saw use is extremely dangerous, especially because of power lines, carbon monoxide from equipment or injury from falls.

    Chain saws are widely used to remove fallen trees and tree branches after storms. One way to avoid injury is to follow manufacturer's instructions and properly sharpen and lubricate chain saw blades with bar and chain oil. The operator should periodically check and adjust the tension of the chain saw blade to ensure good cutting action.

    Choose the proper size of chain saw to match the job, and include safety features such as a chain brake, front and rear hand guards, stop switch, chain catcher and a spark arrester. Wear a hard hat, safety glasses, ear protection, heavy work gloves, and cut-resistant leg wear.

    Avoid power lines. This is important for everyone, not just chain saw users. Always cut at waist level or below to ensure that you maintain secure control over the chain saw. Keep bystanders away. If injury occurs, apply direct pressure over the site of the bleeding; this act may save lives.

    Remember that all gasoline-powered engines produce carbon monoxide, which can rapidly build up in a closed-in area, and individuals can be overcome without even realizing it.

    Confusion, headache, dizziness, fatigue, and weakness may set in too quickly for victims to save themselves and can be deadly.

    Jennifer Bailey, formerly of FEMA, is the public affairs coordinator of Oregon Emergency Management. She may be reached at (503) 378-2911, Ext. 22294 or

    Winter Weather Awareness

    Snow, Ice, Avalanche and Blizzards are the most common of Winter's many hazards.

    Winter storms are a frequent occurence across the Pacific Northwest. Many of these storms bring snow amounts that cause road closures, especially through the mountain passes. Wind, in combination with the snow, can cause reduced visibility and deep snow drifts. Along with the heavy snow comes an avalanche threat in areas of steep terrain. In valley locations, temperatures may be near freezing during the day, but after the storm passes, temperatures plummet causing wet roadways to become ribbons of black ice. In some valleys, cool air trapped near the surface remains below freezing, while warmer air aloft drops rain through the sub-freezing air, causing glaze ice or freezing rain.

    All of these hazards are forecast ahead of time by your local National Weather Service forecast office. Winter storm watches are generally issued 1 to 3 days prior to the storm's arrival. Winter storm warnings, ice storm warnings and heavy snow warnings are issued within a day and sometimes two days's warning.

    1) Winter Storm Warning...issued when any combination of freezing rain, sleet, wind and/or heavy snow occurs over an area that is expected to cause significant widespread damage. Snow amounts required for winter storm warnings vary, given the terrain and location. For low lying areas, which normally receive very little snow, only 2 to 4 inches of snow is required for a winter storm warning. On the other hand in mountainous areas, where nearly every storm brings at least 6 inches of snow, 8 to 10 inches (or more) of snow is required for a warning. A winter storm warning means that road crews will have difficulty keeping roads open and snow free, making travel difficult at best, and impossible at worst.

    2) Blizzard Warning... is normally associated with severe winter weather in the northern plains where strong northwest winds bring snow and frigid temperatures. While rather common for the plains states, blizzard or near blizzard conditions can occur in the Pacific Northwest. The National Weather Service defines a blizzard as a combination of wind that is 35 mph or stronger accompanied by snow with visibilities frequently below one-quarter of a mile.

    3) Ice Storm Warning... in the Pacific Northwest are infrequent, but can be extremely dangerous. Across interior locations, valley locations will have temperatures below freezing when a warm winter storm blows overhead. Rain falling out of the storm passes through the sub-freezing air near the surface and freezes on contact with objects. These conditions cause trees to snap, power lines to fall, and make roads nearly impossible to navigate.

    4) Avalanche Warnings...
    Avalanche Warnings are issued by the Northwest Avalanche Forecast Center, located in Seattle. These products are issued when there is a significant threat of avalanches in the Cascades and Olympics backcountry, possibly affecting mountain roadways and other high country interests. Also, see the NW Avalanche Center's website.

    Thousands of avalanches occur each year in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. With the popularity of winter sports, avalanches pose a great risk to skiers, hikers and snowmobilers. The risk is very real, as people die each year when sudden avalanches bury them. Avalanches can happen anywhere the slope is steep enough and has a heavy load of snow. They typically occur during or just after snowstorms and most occur on a slope of 30 to 45 degrees. By waiting 36 hours after a big snowstorm, you may allow the snow to settle. If you stay in the valleys away from avalanches chutes, in stands of dense trees, or on gentle slopes, you can minimize your risk to avalanches.

    1) NEVER TRAVEL ALONE. Always have one or more companions. If you are alone, and get trapped by an avalanche, you may not be found until April or May.

    2) If crossing a slope that may be prone to avalanches, do it one person at a time. You want to minimize the impact on your party if an avalanche occurs.


    Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    Calling in sick a good idea

    Do you dread calling in sick? Whether it's the fear of a judgmental boss or just concerns about missing out on important happenings, health experts want to put you at ease. There are times when making the call is a must. Confused about whether staying home is a good idea? Here are five signs that a sick day is in order...
    According to a recent poll, only 21 percent of readers say they make a point to stay home when they're sick. The rest of you do sometimes or not at all.

    Guys! The world will not end if you stay home and a.) rest and recover so you can get well again, and b.) prevent the spread of your germs to others.

    More article -

    Oregon Coast and Portland Ready for Winter

    “Early Tuesday marks the onset of the stormy weather as the first storm moves north along the coast,” the NWS said in a bulletin. “There could even be some brief mixed winter precipitation near the passes of the south Washington and far north Oregon Cascades, and near Hood River Tuesday. This system finished moving through Tuesday night and Wednesday, followed by another damp and breezy system Thursday.”

    The NWS said another is likely to hit on Friday and Saturday, making for four days of rain and maybe much more, certainly along the beaches of Oregon.

    “Northwest Oregon and southwest Washington will see its share of active weather throughout this week,” the NWS said.

    The full article is at

    Monday, October 12, 2009

    Legendary Columbus Day Storm

    "Monday marked the 47 year anniversary of the most devastating storm to strike the Pacific Northwest in the 20th Century.

    Aptly dubbed the "Columbus Day Storm", the storm struck with great fury on Oct. 12, 1962, pummeling many areas with well over 100 mph wind gusts and causing catastrophic damage -- mainly across Oregon, but Washington wasn't necessarily left off the hook."

    Check out the article at, it has some really interesting information about this infamous storm that hit Oregon 47 years ago.

    Halloween Safety

    News Release from: Oregon State Police
    Posted: October 12th, 2009 2:11 PM
    Photo/sound file:

    The Oregon State Police - Missing Children Clearinghouse and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) understand parents and children have concerns when planning for Halloween activities. The below "Trick or Treating" safety tips, as well as free Children Identification Kits available in Spanish and English, are available to help parents keep their children safe.

    "Child safety is important year round, but Halloween is an especially important time for parents and children to pay extra attention to their surroundings and not let their guard down," said Nancy McBride, National Safety Director of NCMEC. "It is important that parents exercise a few basic safety precautions to help ensure that Halloween is both fun and safe."

    The following Halloween safety tips are offered by the Oregon State Police Missing Children Clearinghouse and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:

    1) Be sure older children TAKE FRIENDS and younger children are accompanied by a TRUSTED ADULT when "Trick or Treating."
    2) Accompany younger children to the door of every home they approach and make sure parents and guardians are familiar with every home and all people from which the children receive treats.
    3) Teach children to NEVER enter a home without prior permission from their parents or guardians.
    4) Teach children to NEVER approach a vehicle, occupied or not, unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.
    5) Make sure all children wear reflective clothing and carry a glow stick when out at dusk and at night.
    6) Make sure children are able to see and breathe properly and easily when using facial masks. All costumes and masks should be clearly marked as flame resistant.
    7) Teach children to NEVER approach a home that is not well lit both inside and outside.
    8) Teach children to stay alert for any suspicious incidents and report them to their parents, guardians, and/or the proper authority.
    9) Teach children if anyone tries to grab them to make a scene; loudly yell this person is not my father/mother/guardian; and make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming, and resisting.
    10) Consider organizing or attending parties at home, in schools, or in community centers as a good alternative to "Trick or Treating."

    Available year round through the Oregon State Police – Missing Children Clearinghouse (OSP MCC), ID Complete Child Identification and DNA kits are a wonderful proactive method to be prepared in case your child ever becomes missing. "These kits are not only helpful when you need them most, but they are also a great way to open up communication lines with your children regarding child safety," said Judy Hayes of the OSP MCC.

    The child ID Complete kits were purchased with money raised during the 11th Annual Oregon State Police Missing Children Golf Benefit held in Salem last month. More than $14,000 was raised this year that will help buy 26,000 child ID kits.

    Obtaining a child ID Complete kit from the Oregon State Police - Missing Children Clearinghouse can be done by calling (503) 934-0188 or outside Salem at 1-800-282-7155, or e-mail . Please provide your name, address, number of kits needed and a call back phone number when making a request.

    Winter Weather Awareness

    The National Weather Service (NWS) offices in the Pacific Northwest will be holding their annual Winter Weather Awareness Campaign during the week of October 18 through October 24 to help educate the public on winter weather hazards. During this special week, they will be issuing daily statements about winter weather safety. Media outlets across Oregon, Washington and Idaho will also participate by running stories in local newspapers, radio and television broadcasts.

    During that week we will post each day's topic so you can see what the NWS has to say about winter weather and how to prepare for it.

    You can also find more information on winter weather safety on NWS webpages at:

    Friday, October 9, 2009

    October is Fire Prevention Month

    October is Fire Prevention Month. Below are some very useful tools to share
    with family and friends.

    Fire Safety Tools

    Important Fire Safety Tools for Your Home.
    See More About:
    . fires
    . emergency preparedness
    . first aid supplies
    . home safety

    Preparing for an emergency takes diligence and planning. Make sure your home
    is prepared for the possibility of a fire or other emergency. The following
    items will help you plan for a fire, fight a fire, and escape from a fire.
    Each item provides information as well as suggested items.

    1. Smoke Alarm
    Smoke alarms come in two types - ionization and photoelectric. These two
    kinds of smoke alarms detect smoke particles differently, which means they
    detect different types of fires. To be truly safe in case of a fire, it's
    vital to have both types of smoke alarm installed in your home.

    2. Carbon Monoxide Detector
    Unlike smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors measure the presence of
    carbon monoxide in the air and keep track of how long it is present. They
    trigger an alarm if carbon monoxide is present at low levels for a long time
    or at high levels for a short time. Most carbon monoxide detectors also save
    peak values in a memory for later retrieval.

    3. Emergency Evacuation Plan
    It's important that the entire family know what to do in the event of a fire
    or other emergency. During a crisis, we humans respond the way we have been
    trained to do. Kids, especially, need a definite plan to help them react
    appropriately to an emergency. Evacuation plans are not just for fires, it's
    important to have a plan for any emergency.

    4. Fire Extinguisher
    Choosing a fire extinguisher is based on the types of fires the extinguisher
    will be expected to put out. Fire extinguishers are rated for certain types
    of fires. The rating for a fire extinguisher helps determine where in the
    home, office, or car it will be best utilized.

    5. Fire Escape Ladder
    Fire escape ladders provide a second exit from any room on any floor. A fire
    escape ladder lets anyone not on the ground floor use a window to escape a
    home during an emergency. Make sure your multi-floor home has one.

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009

    FEMA Authorizes Funds to Help Oregon State Fight South County Fire Complex

    Release Date: September 22, 2009
    Release Number: R10-09-088

    » 2009 Region X News Releases

    SEATTLE, Wash. -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today authorized the use of federal funds to help Oregon State fight the South County Fire Complex burning near Ashland and Medford, Oregon. The South County Fire Complex consists of the previously named Siskiyou Boulevard Fire located near Ashland and the Deer Ridge Fire located near Medford.

    FEMA Acting Regional Administrator Dennis Hunsinger said the state's request for federal fire management assistance was approved after it was confirmed that the fire threatens property and public infrastructure. Two hundred homes are threatened by Siskiyou and 200 by Deer Ridge. A major county communications center is threatened on Roxy Ann Mountain east of Medford, as well as a major power transmission line. A Red Cross shelter for evacuees has been set up at the Ashland Armory on Oak Street. In addition to 400 homes and other buildings being threatened, 40 commercial buildings and two schools are also at risk. The fire had consumed more than 700 acres at the time of the request.

    "It's critical that the men and women who selflessly battle wildfires know they will continue to have the support of the federal government. This declaration is one demonstration of that support," Hunsinger said.

    The authorization makes FEMA funding available to pay 75 percent of the state's eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling designated fires.

    Federal fire management assistance is provided through the President's Disaster Relief Fund and made available by FEMA to assist in fighting fires that threaten to cause a major disaster. Eligible state firefighting costs covered by the aid must first meet a minimum threshold for costs before assistance is provided. Eligible costs covered by the aid can include expenses for field camps; equipment use, repair and replacement; tools, materials and supplies; and mobilization and demobilization activities.

    FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

    Friday, October 2, 2009

    FEMA message about National Preparedness Month

    National Preparedness Month Draws To A Close, But The Need To Be Prepared Continues Everyday

    Fri, 02 Oct 2009 05:43:36 -0500

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As September comes to an end, so does the 6th annual National Preparedness Month (NPM), but FEMA continues efforts to ensure every American is prepared. NPM, sponsored by the Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps, in conjunction with FEMA, is held each September to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for potential emergencies in their homes, businesses and communities. This year's NPM was kicked off by Secretary Napolitano and local leaders in New York City, as they unveiled new Ready Campaign public service advertising (PSAs). More than 2,670 organizations joined the NPM Coalition and committed to promoting emergency preparedness during September by holding events and encouraging the public to get a plan, get a kit and stay informed. This campaign also reached out to more than 18,000 in the business community, more than 500 classrooms, over 2,400 Citizen Corps Councils, over 3,350 Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), 32 Citizen Corps partners and affiliates, and an immeasurable number of concerned citizens of all backgrounds across the nation.

    Jump to the link to find out more about National Preparedness Month, who was involved, and how it went.

    Thursday, October 1, 2009

    Regional Flu Update

    We received this update yesterday:

    Regional Public Information Officers,

    Please visit the Regional Public Health Flu Web site for the latest update

    Also, please note that the State of Oregon conducted a news conference and
    issued a news release this morning to set the stage for the arrival of
    vaccine over the next several weeks. That news release can be found at:

    Thank you.

    Philip Bransford

    (503) 988-6104