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As swarm of quakes shakes Kitsap area, Emergency Management talks earthquake preps

An earthquake swarm continues to shake Kitsap County where dozens of small quakes have hit during the past week. (Photo: KOMO screenshot from NWSN)

SEATTLE - An earthquake swarm continues to shake Kitsap County where dozens of small quakes have hit during the past week. The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network has tracked about sixty of them.

PNSN says a swarm is not extraordinary, and no cause for alarm.

“The hazard of having a big earthquake is slightly increased with this swarm going on because any of these earthquakes has the potential to crack further,” said Bill Steele with PNSN. “But it’s a tiny chance.”

The odd of the “Big One” haven’t changed. There’s still about a 15 percent chance of a 6.5 magnitude earthquake hitting the Puget Sound in the next 50 years, according to Steele.

For Emergency Management, the biggest challenge is convincing people to pay attention to the issue and take steps to be prepared.

Matt Auflick is the Public Education Outreach Coordinator with Seattle Emergency Management. He said awareness skyrocketed in the City after a 2015 New Yorker article.

Attendance at disaster skills classes doubled and tripled in some cases. But, he said concern ebbs and flows, and many people in Seattle don’t take proper steps to prepare.

According to a 2015 survey, only 50 percent of people in Seattle know they should be prepared with at least a week of supplies before an earthquake. And only about 5 percent have the supplies.

On the community level, huge steps have been taken to organize and prepare for disaster. About 70 volunteer-run disaster hubs now exist, with about 15 pending.

This Saturday, Susan Sanders is hosting a meeting at Jefferson Park to discuss new hub locations and preparedness on Beacon Hill.

“When things happen, people need to know who their neighbors are, where to go,” Sanders said. “We need to know what our neighbors need, and what our neighbors have that we might need."

Both Seattle and Kitsap County Emergency Management told KOMO News the biggest focus is making sure people know their neighbors and their neighborhood, which can be tough when families move in and out of communities frequently.

“While individual preparedness is important,” Auflick said. “What we’ve seen throughout the world when events happen, ultimately how you’re working with the people around you, in the community, is what’s really going to determine your ability to respond and recover.”

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