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The City Journals

Great ShakeOut helps people prepare for earthquakes, floods

May 30, 2017 04:42PM ● By Cassie Goff

Councilman Tee Tyler and Councilman Scott Bracken, with son, participate in emergency operations at Cottonwood Heights City Hall during the Great ShakeOut. (Dan Metcalf Jr./Cottonwood Heights City)

By Cassie Goff  | [email protected]
Once again, folks in Cottonwood Heights have prepared for the big one—the big earthquake that is predicted to occur sometime in the future, that is. Every year, the city hosts the Great ShakeOut, where the emergency preparedness team, under the supervision of Assistant Emergency Manager Mike Halligan, runs residents through emergency procedures during a mock earthquake. This year it was held on Saturday, April 22. The event also included sandbagging in preparation for spring flooding.
Months before the event, local Scout troops compiled sets of triage ribbons for residents within the city. On the morning of the ShakeOut, residents were encouraged to participate with their ribbons, placing an appropriate ribbon outside of their homes so the block captains could practice surveying, in preparation for a real emergency event.
The majority of ShakeOut operations were staged at the Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center, located at 7500 S. 2700 E., from 9:30 a.m. to noon. A simulated shelter, with first-aid and medical equipment, was provided by volunteers of the Utah Region Red Cross. The Cottonwood Heights Amateur Radio Club was in charge of all communications and ran through numerous exercises. A reception center was also manned.
Cottonwood Heights City Hall, located at 2277 Bengal Blvd., staged additional operations, which included an emergency operations center and pet shelter—a new feature this year.
Cottonwood Heights partnered with Sandy City, Murray City, Cottonwood Heights Police, and the Unified Fire Authority (UFA), specifically Station No. 116 located within the city, for the ShakeOut Event.
Earthquakes were not the only natural disasters on mind that day. Halligan arranged to have sandbag-filling supplies available, with Public Works Director Matt Shipp overseeing the preparation for flooding.
They wanted to have sandbag filling as “part of the ShakeOut so they could have volunteers,” said Shipp, who delivered enough supplies for the goal of 1,000 sandbags being filled in about 90 minutes.
The sandbagging goal was achieved when numerous volunteers, including city council members, city staff members, firefighters and residents showed up to help fill sandbags…and then some. After the 1,000 sandbag goal was reached, volunteers kept filling, providing pallets of additional bags. These pallets were relocated to various crucial points around the city.
Shipp was impressed by the volunteers. He has worked in numerous public works departments in surrounding states before and typically found that the public works department staff would do most flood preparation work.
Cottonwood Heights is not like most other cities, however. “Public Works is just here to deliver materials at this point. The volunteers do most of the work,” Shipp said.
Sandbag-filling stations are still up and running within the city. Any extra sandbags that are filled will go to the public works department so they can “tarp them and tuck them away,” Shipp said.
“It’s still snowing in the mountains,” Halligan told the city council during their weekly meeting on April 18. “It’s coming off pretty slow. We (the emergency preparedness team and the public works department) meet to talk a couple times a week. It’s a guessing game at when it’s going to cut loose.”