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Learn how to help after big earthquake, other disaster

Rescuers evacuate a victim off the top deck of the Cypress freeway in Oakland, Calif., after a magnitude 6.9 earthquake Oct. 17, 1989. In June 2016, Northwest agencies will participate in a drill to test their response to a plausible 9.0 quake off the coast that could shake the ground for 5 minutes and spawn a tsunami.
Rescuers evacuate a victim off the top deck of the Cypress freeway in Oakland, Calif., after a magnitude 6.9 earthquake Oct. 17, 1989. In June 2016, Northwest agencies will participate in a drill to test their response to a plausible 9.0 quake off the coast that could shake the ground for 5 minutes and spawn a tsunami. AP | Oakland Tribune

A meeting Monday, May 23, will explain how people can staff a mobilization center after a disaster, such as a major earthquake that’s the focus of a regional exercise in June.

The informational meeting about the Volunteer Mobilization Center will be 6 to 8 p.m. at the Center for Spiritual Living, 2224 Yew Street Road. The VMC is a program of the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County, working with the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

At such a center, trained volunteers would organize members of the public who want to help in the recovery after a disaster by sending them to where they are most helpful and most needed.

On June 7-8, Bellingham and Whatcom County agencies will participate in a Northwest drill called “Cascadia Rising.” Emergency planners and other groups will test their communications and plans for responding to a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the Northwest coast, with subsequent aftershocks and a deadly tsunami. A mock Volunteer Mobilization Center will be set up during the June exercise.

For the center to be effective, a pool of volunteers is needed to staff it in shifts. People who can’t attend the May 23 meeting but who are interested in helping should contact Mel Monkelis at 360-734-3055 or email MelM@WhatcomVolunteer.org.

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