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Learn how to help after a disaster at Feb. 25 Bellingham event

What to do when an earthquake hits

FEMA explains what you should do before an earthquake happens and when it occurs in an animated video called "When The Earth Shakes."
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FEMA explains what you should do before an earthquake happens and when it occurs in an animated video called "When The Earth Shakes."

An open house will be Thursday, Feb. 25, for people interested in staffing a volunteer mobilization center in the event a large disaster hits Whatcom County, such as a major earthquake.

The open house will be 4-7 p.m. at Garden Street United Methodist Church, 1326 N. Garden St.

The Volunteer Center of Whatcom County would oversee the mobilization center once it’s activated by the county sheriff’s office. Volunteers who assist at the mobilization center would help to process and assign the many other community members who step forward to be of assistance after the disaster strikes.

A Jan. 23 meeting in Bellingham attracted several hundred people to a presentation about the potential damage to the region from a magnitude-9 earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a major fault that runs off the coast from Northern California to almost the northern tip of Vancouver Island. A video of the Jan. 23 presentation can be viewed at YouTube under the heading “Volunteer Mobilization Orientation on Disasters.”

The video also will be shown at 9 a.m. Fridays and 2 p.m. Wednesdays on BTV10, the city of Bellingham’s cable TV channel, through February.

It’s estimated a magnitude-9 quake, popularly known as “the big one,” could kill more than 14,000 people in the region, most of them from an ensuing tsunami. While the estimated number of deaths in Whatcom County isn’t large, damage to roads, bridges and other infrastructure could leave county residents fending for themselves for several days or longer.

During the open house Feb. 25, people can see a “go box” with items needed by a family to get through three days on their own. Many people probably have most of the items in their house already.

For more details, including a form to fill out if you want to help at a mobilization center, go to WhatcomVolunteer.org/Disaster or call 360-734-3055

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