Cascadia Exercise Retrospective – Washington State Emergency Management Association (WSEMA)

Since we have just had the anniversary of the Cascadia Earthquake and Tsunami of 1700, I felt it imperative to send this message to all of you.

Cascadia was exercised at various levels of government, jurisdiction and tribal nation this past June.

The Exercise unveiled gaping holes in our response capabilities and plans. Some we had already known about, secretly hoping we would never experience a true event which would expose those specific vulnerabilities. Others became distinctly apparent during the exercise and some remain unknown, because many jurisdictions weren’t able to participate for more than a few days, hours and a few not at all. What the Cascadia Exercise did do for every one of us, was identify two common threads between all of us – the need for change and opportunity.

As the Washington State Emergency Management Association (WSEMA), President, I am calling on all emergency managers and response agencies to join our organization and to become active in our committees to create the change we seek and to blaze pathways to opportunity around barriers preventing change.

The WSEMA website is

The excerpt below is from the Dr. Martin Luther King speech, “Beyond Vietnam.” Although the speech was against the Vietnam War, this passage about opportunity and procrastination rings true for all emergency managers and response agencies today.

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The “tide in the affairs of men” does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: Too late.”

– Martin Luther King Jr., New York Riverside Church, Beyond Vietnam , April 04, 1967

Your concerns need to be heard in order to create change. We are charged with the lives of the citizens we serve. If we work as one, we can accomplish what was once thought to be unachievable. Please take time to consider joining WSEMA and in participating in one of our committees.

Please remain safe and remember, we work on a daily basis with some of the greatest minds in the history of the state and country. Imagine what we can accomplish if we try.

Chuck Wallace, 2017 WSEMA President