VIEMA, the Vashon Island Emergency Management Area, was created as an officially sanctioned part of King County on April 18, 2005. Dow Constantine, Vashon/Maury Island's representative on the King County Council, shepherded legislation in the Council creating this new inter-local agency to be able to channel resources needed to prepare the islands for disasters.
The Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously approved an ordinance which allows King County to enter into an inter-local agreement with special districts on Vashon/Maury Islands for emergency management purposes. The entity formed will be called the Vashon Island Emergency Management Area (VIEMA).
"Since the Nisqually Earthquake and the attacks of September 11th, disaster preparedness has moved to the forefront," said Council member Dow Constantine, who co-sponsored the legislation. "This inter-local agreement is the result of islanders taking charge of their ability to communicate, coordinate, and assist each other in the case of a catastrophic event."
The legislation recognizes that Vashon and Maury islands may be isolated from the rest of King County during a catastrophic event, such as a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. A volunteer coalition has already initiated disaster planning efforts on the islands. King County's Office of Emergency Management developed the inter-local agreement to establish a legal framework for this planning effort.
The legislation is the result of two and one-half years of work by islanders and County representatives. Joe Ulatoski, an islander who has spearheaded the efforts on Vashon/Maury islands, said, "I am delighted that at last Vashon and Maury islands have an on-island organization that can formally oversee planning and development of disaster preparedness on the islands."
The inter-local agreement provides for the activation and operation of a community Emergency Operations Center and a community Emergency Management Plan. The agreement includes King County Fire District 13, Water District #19, Vashon Island School District, and King County through its Department of Transportation and the Sheriff's Office.
-- From an article we published