Kate Akyuz, an ecologist with King County’s Water and Land Resources Division, far right, shows students in Foster High School’s Teen CERT club the damage that flood waters can cause using a stream table model. HEIDI SANDERS, Tukwila Reporter

Foster High School students learn about emergency preparedness

Students from Foster High School’s Teen CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) club recently got a hands-on lesson on the dangers of flooding and emergency preparedness.

Personnel from King County Emergency Management, Water and Land Resources Division and the Sheriff’s Office Marine Rescue Dive Unit visited the school on Oct. 23 to promote the Take Winter By Storm campaign, which reminds people to “turn around, don’t drown” when confronted by flood waters.

Foster’s Teen CERT started in 2011 as Foster S.A.F.E. (Safety Awareness for Everyone) and was renamed in 2016 to better reflect the organization’s mission.

The club provides the school’s administration with feedback during emergency drills, takes field trips and volunteers as victims for CERT exercises.

At the Take Winter By Storm event, Kate Akyuz, an ecologist with the Water and Land Resources Division, demonstrated the damage floods can do using a stream table model, which simulates flood conditions using sand, a sump pump and scale features such as culverts, homes, cars and buses.

Members of the Sheriff’s Office Marine Rescue Dive Unit talked to students about the dangers of crossing flood waters and how the unit helps people who get stranded.

“Natural hazards have been dominating the news recently,” Lynne Miller, public information officer for the county’s Emergency Management, said during the event. “From Huston to Florida to Puerto Rico, we have been seeing images that show people and cars trapped by flood waters. We’ve seen damaged property because of hurricanes. It makes you stop and wonder, could that happen here? Thankfully we don’t have hurricanes in the Puget Sound region, but we do have a history of significant flood events.”

As winter approaches, it is important to be prepared for flooding, Miller said.

“Some years are worse than others,” she said. “Last year was the wettest year on record, and the forecast for this year is indicating similar conditions. We want to get ready. Heavy and sustained rainfall is what really causes the problems. “It will overtop rivers. It can saturate hillsides or flood roadways. Those conditions can create real safety issues if we don’t take proper actions.”

To help residents be prepared for an emergency, Teen CERT will sell low-cost emergency kits during Foster’s Craft Fair from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9, in the school’s Commons, 4242 S. 144th St., Tukwila.

Ekua Monkah, a Foster High senior who is involved in the Teen CERT club, said everyone should have an emergency kit that includes first aid supplies, a radio, flashlight, extra batteries and canned food.

“You want to make sure you check the kit twice a year, so every six months, to see if there are any expired canned goods,” she said.

For more information about Take Winter By Storm, visit TakeWinterByStorm.org.

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