Washington, DC -- Joe Allbaugh, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) toured his first disaster site in his new position, when he visited Washington State today to view earthquake damage there. Allbaugh was accompanied by Congressional representatives, and is scheduled to tour Thurston County, Pierce County, King County and Seattle and the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Olympia.
The reported 6.8 magnitude earthquake, which hit February 28, has caused a reported 250 injuries and damaged numerous structures, although no widespread catastrophic damage has been reported. Some transportation issues remain today, due to landslides and road failures, and some people are reportedly still without power. The American Red Cross reports operating five shelters.
FEMA's Emergency Support Team (EST) in its headquarters office is operating 24 hours a day and the national Emergency Response Team is on advisory. Three Disaster Medical Assistance Teams are on advisory as well.
FEMA's Regional Operations Center, located in the agency's Bothell, Washington, Region X, has been activated and is operating 24 hours a day. An advance element of the Emergency Response Team has been activated at the Washington State EOC. Preliminary Damage Assessment team members from FEMA are prepared for deployment.
The U.S. Corps of Engineers has alerted a Structural Safety Assessment Team and Water Planning Response Team for possible deployment to Region X. FEMA is standing by for a request from the state for a federal disaster declaration. Such a request kicks off the federal disaster declaration process and makes federal funds available for communities struck by disaster.