June 11, 2008 · Updated 11:23 AM
"When the earth moves to the tune of a 6.8 magnitude earthquake, it's good to see a county emergency plan come together.Officials are crediting Kitsap County's preparedness for quick responses to damage and injury calls after the earthquake, which took place at about 10:55 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28.From our standpoint we just fell into (emergency mode), evacuating buildings, checking for injuries, making sure the major bridges were open and there was no damage, said Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer.I think the schools did the job well, they had good earthquake preparedness plans, he said.Deputies cooperated with Bremerton police to help direct traffic for bridge closings and other emergencies because they had more calls than we did, Boyer said.Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue was checking its stations and critical infrastructure in the area on Wednesday, said Battalion Chief Jay Lovato.CKFR was in emergency communications center mode, acting as a clearing house for emergency services, Lovato said Wednesday.We're checking major highways, structures, hospitals, large community structures. There was minor structural damage to some larger structures such as Silverdale's Harrison Hospital, and Central Kitsap High School, Station 52 on Olympic View, he added.Boyer said the CenCom emergency dispatch workers performed exceptionally.They were great. they climbed under their tables but were dispatching from under the tables, I was really impressed, Boyer said.But one big problem after the quake was instantaneously everyone was on their cell phones, tying up communications Boyer said.And 50 percent of the calls coming into CenCom were to ask, 'Did we just have an earthquake?' Boyer said.He said the calls tied up lines for genuine emergencies.The system can only handle so much capacity, he said. He suggested individuals and families have their own emergency notification plan.Have a relative in another state you can call. If you can get a dial tone, call that relative and have them notify others about your status, and keep the calls brief, Boyer said.Harrison Memorial Hospital spokesperson Patti Hart said a total of 11 quake-related injuries were reported at the hospital's three locations. None were at Harrison-Silverdale, and all were characterized as minor injuries.We've mostly seen just minor lacerations and abrasions, Hart said.As of about 1:30 p.m., all 17 beds in the emergency room of Harrison's main facility in East Bremerton were full, Hart said, although only six patients were suffering from injuries caused by the quake. Two of those patients were Harrison staff members - one person fainted and one was hit by a falling object, according to Hart. Five additional patients had been transported to Harrison's Port Orchard Urgent Care Facility complaining of injuries suffered during the quake.We did have three people from our community who weren't injured or sick, Hart said. They just felt safer coming to the hospital ... We're seeing an awful lot of anxiety today.The quake forced closure of Bremerton's Warren Avenue and Manette bridges for most of Wednesday afternoon, but both were re-opened in time for the Thursday morning commute.At Subase Bangor, the top 40 feet of a 200-foot lightening arrestor tower toppled and power was lost at Delta Pier, said Don Goodwin, a high voltage electrician for Johnson Controls.Goodwin's job was to check all the high voltage lines around the base, he said.Area wide, 250 injuries were reported directly related to the earthquake. All but a few were minor. A mild aftershock with a 3.4 magnitude was recorded early Thursday morning by the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo.Wednesday's quake, which hit at 10:55 a.m. and measured 6.8 on the Richter scale, was the largest in 30 years. A 6.5 earthquake in 1965 injured at least 31 people. In 1949 a 7.1 quake near Olympia killed eight people. Gov. Gary Lock said damages from the quake could mount into billions of dollars, not only from property damage but also in economic impact, lost wages and closed businesses.President George W. Bush dispatched Federal Emergency Management Agency head Joe Albaugh to the area to assess damages.Sheriff Boyer commended the people of the county for their response to the earthquake, and concern for others.When we're faced with an emergency people help each other, Good Samaritans abound, Boyer said.There was no estimate of damage to the Washington State Ferry's Colman Dock, according to WSF spokeswoman Susan Harris. The north end of Colman, and Vashon's second slip were damaged, she said.She said quake damage would probably cost less than $1 million, system-wide.We stopped running all routes right after the earthquake. All the boats hung out for 30 minutes while we ascertained the damage, she said. We returned to service except for Seattle routes, by 1:30 p.m.At that point, the transported only passengers while crews checked for damage on vehicle loading ramps. The walk-ons got free rides since the booths and the building were closed for damage inspection, Harris noted.Later, WSF was able to route vehicles on the south side of Colman Dock, using only 25 of the 60 lanes on the dock, Harris said, and by 4:30 p.m. officials were able to open the regular ferry building.Colman and the building were yellow-tagged, or restricted to all except critical personnel until damage was assessed.Harris, a native of California, is no stranger to earthquakes. But Wednesday's quake was a little longer than she's used to.It lasted a minute and 38 seconds. It was long enough for me to stand up, realize it wasn't a boat hitting the dock, and get out of my office because I had two windows in there, she said. Harris said she went to an office down the hall and found shelter under a desk. "