Decatur sustains the most structural damage

"It appears that Federal Way will escape Wednesday's 6.8-magnitude earthquake relatively unscathed. Decatur High School sustained the most damage with a twisted truss in the gymnasium roof and a gas leak in one of the corridors. School officials there released students two hours early, but reopened Decatur on Thursday after determining the school was safe. Fortunately for the school, head custodian Joe Swanson is a certified disaster inspector, Principal Gerald Millett said.Other quake-related incidents reported include: * A sinkhole caused leaks in gas and water lines on 38th Avenue South, east of Interstate 5 between 304th and 308th streets, and closed roads there. In fact, the most widespread problem in Federal Way after the quake was the odor and leak of natural gas in several locations. * Fire Station 61, 3203 S. 360th St., sustained cracks in the hose tower. * The city sent building inspectors to the Smart Start daycare, 29298 Pacific Highway South, and the Barclay Ridge apartments, 33020 10th Ave. S.W., to make sure the buildings were safe to occupy. Apartment residents were allowed to return to their homes.* Three people were trapped in elevators, one at Weyerhaeuser's Corporate Headquarters and the others at a separate business location. It is unknown whether either incident was related to a power surge or structural damage in the elevator shaft. * All three people who were treated at St. Francis Hospital, which was operating on emergency power Wednesday following the quake, had minor injuries. The injured included one teacher from Olympic View Elementary School who was hit by falling debris.We didn't have anybody transported in an ambulance, said city spokesman Derek Matheson. Matheson added that police resources were stretched thin for three to four hours after the quake because officers had to manually direct traffic at major Federal Way intersections south of 320th Street where power was out. Power outages were most severe in the south-southwest part of the city. Matheson said the Greater Federal Way Community Emergency Management Team performed well following the quake. The city's public works director, Cary Roe, commands the team, which pools the resources of the city of Federal Way, its police department, the Federal Way Fire Department, the school district, Lakehaven Utility District and the Federal Way Amateur Radio Club. The EOC closed its operations at 3 p.m. The EOC worked well, Matheson said. They did an excellent job of surveying damage (in Federal Way). Emergency plans were well executed at schools as well, said district spokeswoman Diane Turner. Federal Way students practice earthquake drills three to four times a year along with intruder drills. The drills are practiced together because they employ many of the same safety tactics such as covering the head and ducking under desks for cover. Damage in other areas of King County prompted Executive Ron Sims to declare a state of emergency and announce several building closures, including the King County Courthouse. Sea-Tac International Airport shut down as well, until crews built a temporary aircraft control tower Wednesday afternoon, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said. He said six of eight structural supports on the main tower were damaged, and all but one of its windows were shattered. Kenitzer said it could be a few days until flights are back to normal. -------------------- Safety survey tipsFederal Way Fire Department officials advise residents to do a safety survey of their home following an earthquake. Specific items to look for are: * Check for the smell or sound of natural gas. Leave it on if there is no problem. If you hear it hissing or smell gas, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn it off at the meter only if a leak is detected. Puget Sound Energy must turn the service back on. Do not call 9-1-1 or try to turn the gas back on yourself. Do not use open flame. * Watch for loose plaster, drywall and ceilings that could fall. * Watch pets and animals closely. Leash dogs and place them in a fenced yard. Behavior of pets may change dramatically after an earthquake. Normally quiet and friendly cats and dogs may become aggressive or defensive. * Check for sewage and water line damage. If you suspect damage, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water from undamaged water heaters or by melting ice cubes. * Check your home's structure - look for cracks in fireplace chimneys. Cracks can be the cause of a fire years later. Check your home's foundation to see if there has been any damage. * Open closet and cabinet doors cautiously. Contents may have shifted during the shaking of an earthquake and could fall, creating further damage or injury. * Help neighbors who may need special assistance, such as elderly people and people with disabilities. "

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