Letter: Review effectiveness of alert system

Published:

 

I have not seen this discussed in the media, but no alert was activated during the Clackamas-area chemical incident on May 11 for the All Hazards Radio System operated by NOAA and sometimes referred to as the Weather Alert System. As a spotter, I called the Portland National Weather Service office to let them know I had not heard an alert broadcast. I was told no local official had asked for it to be activated. A May 12 Columbian online story reported “4 injured in Portland-area chemical release.”

I am wondering how well our dispatch offices understand their obligation to use all available means of communication to alert the citizens they work for in such situations. Government agencies need to wake up as to their need to coordinate with their sister agencies and if it is not working be proactive in making it happen.

Specifically, I would like to know if each 911 office has operating procedures for both the reverse call system and the NOAA radio notification system that lots of us have invested in. I am also interested in knowing whether neighboring counties are ready to coordinate on, for instance, volcanic eruptions.

Bob Blakey

Vancouver