State EOC activated for heightened terror threat

With a war against Iraq apparently days away, the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at Camp Murray activated to Phase II at 5:30 p.m. Monday, in response to the elevation of the homeland security alert because of a national high risk of a possible terrorism threat.

“While there is no specific threat targeted at Washington state at this time, there is now a heightened national security concern because of the imminence of war with Iraq,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy J. Lowenburg, the Adjutant General of the Washington National Guard and Director of the Washington Military Department.

“So it is prudent to take certain security steps at the state level,” he said.

Washington state’s present role is to monitor and support state agencies and local jurisdictions across the state in preparations and its emergency actions, should that become necessary.

Gov. Gary Locke has been informed of the elevated status of the homeland security threat.

The U.S government put the country on the second-highest level of security alert Monday and warned of possible terrorist attacks against the United States if the country takes military action against Iraq.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced the increase in the terror-alert level to “orange,” meaning a “high” risk of attack, after President Bush told Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein he had 48 hours to go into exile to avoid war.

Here are some steps Washington state citizens may want to consider at this time:

– Review your disaster plan with all family members.

– Exercise caution when traveling. Be alert to your surrounding and avoid placing yourself in a vulnerable situation and monitor the activities of your children, if applicable.

– Avoid leaving unattended packages, backpacks, brief cases or bags in public areas.

– Review disaster preparedness procedures.

– Check on neighbors who are elderly or have special needs to ensure they are okay. Review the disaster plan with them.

– Listen to the news regarding the heightened threat and security procedures, local contingency operations/plans/evacuations and personal safety messages.