Lahar drill: Orting Valley practices evacuation to high ground

Mount Rainier.(Q13 News)

ORTING, Wash. – Thousands of school students in Orting practiced evacuating their classrooms to higher ground during a lahar drill Friday morning.

Living in the shadow of Mt. Rainier does comes with risk an eruption, or a lahar – that’s wall of fast-moving snow melt and mud that turns into a slurry, which would likely devastate the Orting Valley.

“There’s scenarios where we may have no warning at all and we have 45 minutes to evacuate our entire community,” said Dr. Marci Shepard, superintendent at the Orting School District. “We’re in a valley and between two rivers, Orting is going to be completely wiped out in the event of a lahar.”

Not only are thousands school students in the direct path of a potential disaster so are all their neighbors.

Police, fire, county and state agencies practiced for the worst-case scenario – and in short enough time to get evacuees to higher-ground.

“The message to is to prepare and not scare our students and residents,” said Sarah McKee from Orting Valley Fire & Rescue.

“We don’t want to make it scary but it’s real,” said Shepard.

Come next Friday, the city of Puyallup will also hold a similar evacuation drill – where thousands more will practice along their emergency evacuation routes.

 

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