Trailblazing condos prepare

These are some of the emergency supplies condo owners will need in the event of an earthquake. Some condo associations in Madison Park have been organizing their residents in emergency preparation in recent years.

These are some of the emergency supplies condo owners will need in the event of an earthquake. Some condo associations in Madison Park have been organizing their residents in emergency preparation in recent years.

The December 2022 news announcement: Some freeways may be useable following ‘the Big One’ per new modeling by University of Washington - OPB sounded reassuring. But it’s not that simple.

The report addressed only one of the two major faults poised to cause major damage from a significant earthquake in our region. The Cascadia Subduction Fault off the Pacific coast may not cause our Puget Sound bridges and roads to fully collapse as previously predicted, but the Seattle Fault that crosses just south of downtown is still expected to be very violent even though it will not last as many minutes. And so, the Seattle Fault’s abrupt upheaval will cause major damage to our urban infrastructure, economic and social fabric — including severe damage to major bridges and roads.

Thus, the work of the city and neighborhood emergency management teams continues full steam ahead, trying to get us all educated and prepared. Madison Park volunteer efforts include improving an emergency communications hub in the park to exchange critical information and mutual aid, with periodic drills to practice; building up a radio team for emergency communications; and organizing neighbors block by block so they will develop relationships and inspire each other to prepare for the earthquake disaster in our future.

Does your block or collection of 20-40 adjacent households have this work underway? You can start with existing relationships and draw on the city’s tools to develop your neighborhood “SNAP.” Visit the extensive resource at:  Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare - Emergency Management |, or email us at We can share what we know and tell you about the other “non-emergency” benefits that come from knowing your neighbors.

Condos, too, have been organizing their residents in emergency preparation. Extensive work on this was initiated over a decade ago by Steve Chentow and members of Lakeside West Condos, resulting in an extensive manual for their building inspired by the Bay Vista Condo community in downtown Seattle.

Over the years Lakeside West has purchased an impressive list of emergency supplies, including medical and building supplies, to serve their community, as a whole. Individual condo residents can use the manual to educate themselves on securing the safety of their own unit, procuring needed emergency supplies for survival, and learning how to stay safe during an earthquake. The manual assigns different roles to be assumed following a significantly damaging quake and outlines how injuries, fire and utility management will be handled. The building holds periodic drills to practice and keep everyone current on how to respond with the protocols developed.

Inspired by this extensive work, residents of another Madison Park condo building, Lakeshore West, led by Ginny Miller and her building manager, began to develop their own plans beginning with the formation of an Emergency Preparedness and Response Committee with assigned roles of floor captains, an operations coordinator and committee chair. They prepared a simple manual and distributed it to everyone in the building with a packet of curated information and checklists; included was a “Be Prepared” document from the city’s Office of Emergency Management with a form to complete listing the most significant people they want contacted in case of emergency. A cover letter reassures residents: “Once the shaking stops or the lights go out, we'll check in with all of our neighbors. We'll make every effort to assure you are OK, help as we can, take note of what you need, and help contact your family.” Within their budget limitations Lakeshore West purchased a small collection of supplies and storage cabinets for each floor captain to access.

These two condo buildings report that one of their biggest challenges is getting individual residents to do their own advance preparation and gathering of supplies. Toward that end, Lakeshore West held “show and tell” open-house socials hosted by each floor captain. Residents could not only meet and greet each other with refreshments and conversations but explore a collection of supplies residents had purchased for their emergency kits. This combination of getting to know each other and seeing firsthand different ways to assemble supplies and store them in their condos was a terrific way to engage in emergency preparedness.

Our Madison Park volunteers have teamed up with the newly revitalized Madison Valley Emergency Preparation volunteers to support each other’s work. We are gathering a growing collection of useful documents and photos to support our individual and collective efforts.
If you would like to join our volunteer efforts or receive a one page “how to prep your home” with accompanying shopping list, please contact When you become an active volunteer, you have access to our Google Drive with extensive resources you can download.