Thousands drill for lahar threat

PUYALLUP, Wash. – Puyallup public and private school students took part in their annual lahar drill Friday, practicing for a worst-case scenario natural disaster that could cause massive devastation.

School officials told Q13 News it was the largest lahar drill ever in the Puyallup valley, where students from more than nine schools practice an evacuation drill to higher ground.

Living in the shadow of Mt. Rainier means also living with the reality that a lahar could devastate communities along the river valleys.

“What makes this different this year is everyone in these agencies working together to drill as if it’s the real thing,” said Brian Fox with the Puyallup School District.

The United States Geological Survey has traveled the world to study lahars and say volcanic activity at Mt. Rainier threatens to send a wall of debris towards communities.

And just like last week, first responders and emergency managers are working with school officials to make sure everyone knows what to do – not if – but when a lahar threatens lives.

“Imagine a wet, flowing concrete river coming down stream off Mt. Rainier,” said Carolyn Driedger. “This has happened in the past; this has happened about nine times.”