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Mount Baker High School students to lead disaster prep workshop

Rebekah Paci-Green, an earthquake-damage expert at Western Washington University visits a school for the deaf and blind in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after a January 2010 magnitude 7.0 quake.
Rebekah Paci-Green, an earthquake-damage expert at Western Washington University visits a school for the deaf and blind in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after a January 2010 magnitude 7.0 quake. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

A Mount Baker High School geology class aims to help the community prepare for Whatcom County’s most likely natural disasters with a workshop this weekend.

Juniors and seniors from science teacher David Lewis’ advanced geology class have prepared the workshop on hazard preparation. The free class, open to everyone, is scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at the Mt. Baker High School auditorium, 4936 Deming Road.

The event will feature two keynote speakers, both of whom are experts in the field of disaster research. Brian Atwater, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and a University of Washington professor, was named one of Time magazine’s most influential people of 2005 for his research on earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest.

Rebekah Paci-Green, the other speaker, is the director for Western Washington University’s Resilience Institute, and whose research includes societies’ vulnerabilities to natural disasters. Paci-Green wrote “Cascadia Rising,” a report that estimates the fallout of a major earthquake along the Cascadia fault.

Following the talks, students will lead individual sessions explaining what attendees should do before, during and after disasters.

Though earthquakes are probably the biggest threat to the area, Lewis said, the workshop also will touch on volcanic disasters, and a variety of other hazards, too.

“We’re not going for alarm, but we wanted a real-world reality check,” Lewis said, adding that the students have led the organization of the event since its conception. “We wanted to find out how can we get people ready for calmly getting through a potentially very difficult time.”

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

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan

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