I am the recently-retired Columbia County director of emergency management. I write in support of funding the new St. Helens Public Safety Facility.
The current facility was built in 1971 and is inadequate for the needs of a modern, professional police force. There is inadequate space to conduct routine operations, the spaces are in disrepair and do not meet current police accreditation standards.
The building is not seismically safe and will fail catastrophically during the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSV) earthquake. HazVu shows that shaking from a CSV event will be very strong and soil liquefaction moderate. The existing building will not survive this event. Those in the building at the time will become casualties when we most need a strong response to protect lives.
The plans for a new facility include a backup emergency operations center (EOC). This is a critical need for both the city and county. The county EOC is small and has no surge capacity for large disasters. The backup EOC will provide redundant technology capability critical to response to a major catastrophe.
The new public safety facility will have public spaces suitable for meetings including resilience and preparedness training. This training is critical for citizen safety as each resident must prepare for emergencies as in any medium to large scale incident you may be on your on for a few days to a few weeks depending on the severity of the disaster.
I strongly encourage residents to support our public safety professionals.