On Mon., May 2 at noon, Pierce County Emergency Management will test its 17 outdoor lahar warning sirens in the Puyallup River Valley. Additionally, the cities of Fife, Orting and Puyallup will test their 10 older civil defense era sirens. To correspond with Volcano Awareness Month, some valley schools are coordinating evacuation drills along with the test.
May is designated as Volcano Awareness Month which coincides with the anniversary of the catastrophic eruptions of Mount St. Helens in May of 1980. Eruptions and lahars at Mount St. Helens took the lives of 57 people and caused billions of dollars in property damage.
Lahars (mudflows) from Mount Rainier are the primary hazard to developed areas in the valley including Orting, Sumner, Puyallup and Fife and this drill is a reminder of the actions residents in a volcano hazard zone should take. The recent tsunami and the destruction it brought remind us how important it is to provide early warning to residents. The lahar sirens are designed for the outdoor and driving public and are one of the tools used to alert residents during a lahar.
To coincide with this drill, Emergency Management will send out a Pierce County ALERT. This is a fairly new mass communication tool that allows the county to call residents and businesses during emergencies or other significant events. The morning of the siren drill, Emergency Management will call residents of the Puyallup River Valley from Orting to Fife, to remind them about the test. (Puyallup residents will be notified by their own mass notification system). County residents and businesses can ‘opt-in’ other devices to receive these messages as well as cell phones, email, texts, etc. by signing up online at http://www.piercecountywa.org .