East Pierce Schools Prepare For Biggest Lahar Drill In The Country – Patch

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PUYALLUP, WA — Later this month, five school districts from across East Pierce County will be participating in what organizers believe is the largest lahar drill ever performed in the country.

The drill is coordinated in part by the City of Puyallup, and will take place on April 29, 2022. That’s when students from the five participating districts — Puyallup School District, Orting School District, Sumner-Bonney Lake School District, White River School District, and Carbonado Historical School District — will step out of their classrooms and walk their lahar evacuation routes.

“We know that if a real-life lahar were to happen, the Cities of Puyallup, Orting, Sumner, Bonney Lake, and other areas will be impacted,” said Puyallup Police Chief Scott Engle. “The response needs to be regional. That is why we have partnered with all these communities to host a region-wide drill. Preparedness matters, and if we can teach young people to be prepared, that helps us from a law enforcement perspective when we respond to these emergencies.”

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The drill is set to begin at 9 a.m. Organizers say commuters should be aware there will be extra pedestrians out on the streets, as the hundreds of kids walk their routes.

The event was organized by the East Pierce Interlocal Coalition, or EPIC, a group of Emergency Management departments and first responders from seven East Pierce County cities. They say the massive drill will help prepare kids in case of a real-life disaster, helping to familiarize them with their lahar routes and prepared to avoid the mudflows that follow a volcanic eruption.

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“We sat down with each school district in the region and came up with a plan for evacuating their students,” said Kirstin Hofmann, Emergency Manager for the City of Puyallup. “It took a lot of work, but we really need to thank each school district. They are the ones with boots on the ground handling the kids and getting them evacuated safely. Communication has been critical to this drill, and the schools have been fantastic with keeping an open line of communication with us.”

While only students and school staff will be participating in the drill, the public is invited to brush up on their lahar safety by:

  1. Making a Plan. Identify the evacuation route nearest your home and plan how you are going to evacuate.
  2. Preparing an Emergency Kit. Stock your kit with essential items such as an N95 mask, first aid, water, food, a flashlight, blankets, and other items.
  3. Communicating. Create a list of phone numbers for family members and friends. Establish regular contact with them before, during, and after an emergency.

>> Learn more about the upcoming drill from the City of Puyallup.

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