When disaster strikes, normal transportation routes may become impassible. Bridges, tunnels, roads, and mass transit systems are susceptible to many kinds of interruptions including earthquakes, major fires, floods, industrial chemical accidents, riots, terrorism, and labor strikes.
Municipal docks provide a way to shift people and emergency supplies over water by boat. Docks that accommodate small vessels provided the widest range of emergency relief options.
Few communities have alternative plans for over-water relief in the event of an emergency. Yet, the cost to maintain a municipal dock is minimal in comparison to other methods for transporting people and supplies on short notice.
Municipal docks allow the use of private vessels which can quickly scale to infinite capacity when police, Coast Guard, military vessels and helicopters may be in short supply.
Without docks, emergency relief by boat is limited to specialized craft capable of beach landings. Such operations can have very limited options in places where the shoreline is not ideal--such as rocky or muddy beaches, or high embankments.
Seattle Metro Area Earthquake Risk.
The City of Seattle is surrounded by water--Puget Sound to the West, Lake Washington to the East. The area is further divided up by rivers, streams and canals. Much of the Puget Sound Basin is comprised of glacier sediment "jello" that becomes unstable during seismic events.
The hundreds of bridges and elevated roadways throughout the region are at risk of simultaneous damage or destruction during a large earthquake. Even a small earthquake could close many bridges to await engineering inspections before they are cleared for travelers.
Separated by the Lake Washington Ship Canal, six ancient bridges connect the north and south sides of the City. Only four bridges connect the community of West Seattle. Impassible freeway overpasses throughout the metropolitan area could cut off Bellevue, Renton, Kirkland, and Kenmore.
Seattle has many places where emergency small vessel docks can be designated with minimal infrastructure investment to provide an added layer of emergency security for area neighborhoods.
UPWA is seeking to partner with community emergency preparedness groups to develop emergency access points through our WaterRoads program.