Six people with knowledge and expertise in various phases of emergency management will participate as panelists at the Earthquake Preparedness Event set for 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2 at the Ross Ragland Theater.
Tipping Point Resilience, which is working with communities, government agencies and businesses in the Pacific Northwest are presenting the free program. The husband-wife team of Steve Eberlein and Lydia Ledgerwood-Eberlein, who were both born and raised in Klamath Falls, have been developing programs aimed at increasing awareness for a possible massive quake, which scientists estimate could rattle Oregon, California, Washington and British Columbia in the next 20 years.
Steve Eberlein will lead the program, which will include discussions and an exchange of ideas, concerns and ways to prepare with panelists. Panel members include Andrew Phelps, director of Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management; Brandon Fowler, Klamath County Emergency Manager; Morgan Lindsay, former Klamath County Emergency Manager; Richard Valencia, safety and security manager for the Sky Lakes Medical Center; Brandon Thueson, Klamath County Fire District 1 division chief-fire marshal; and Erin Cox, an Oregon Tech professor.
The program is being hosted by a committee organized by Bob Kingzett, executive director of the Wendt Family Foundation. Other committee members include retired Klamath Falls business owners Dick Ledgerwood and Neal Eberlein, the parents of Steve Eberlein and Lydia Ledgerwood-Eberlein. A fourth committee member is Yabori Sequeria Calvo, who works for ZCS Engineering and created the posters, flyers and promotional information.
“This is an important event for people and businesses in Klamath Falls to participate in,” Kingzett said. “There have been about 45 earthquakes in the 8-plus to 9-plus range on the Richter Scale over the last 10,000 years, which translates to a major West Coast quake every 243 years. It’s been 319 years since the last big one so the math is fairly straightforward. This is not to say we can precisely predict when it will happen, but earthquake experts says there is a 40 percent chance of the Cascadia event to hit in the next two or three decades so it is something we should prepare for.”
Kingzett also noted the program “has a bit of a sentimental nature because our presenters grew up in Klamath Falls, both are Klamath Union High graduates and both still consider this ‘home’ and have very strong positive memories of growing up in Klamath Falls.” He notes Steven played tennis while Lydia was a multi-sport athlete who has been inducted into the KUHS Athletic Hall of Fame.
Information about the panelists and their expertise follows.
Andrew Phelps has been the Director of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management office since 2015. In addition to managing the state’s 9-1-1 program and multi-million dollar state and federal preparedness, recovery and mitigation grant programs, his office maintains comprehensive planning, training, exercise and community engagement programs to ensure Oregon can mitigate against, prepare for, respond to and recover from any emergency or disaster. Phelps also serves as the Governor’s authorized representative for disaster declarations. He has held leadership positions with state, local and non-profit emergency management and response agencies and organizations in New York and New Mexico, with certifications in incident command, firefighting, search and rescue and as an emergency management technician. Phelps received his undergraduate degree from the City University of New York and his graduate degree from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.
Klamath County’s Emergency Manager, Brandon Fowler, has a wide variety of both private sector and public service. Fowler is an expert in communications systems and infrastructure having spent 25 years in the industry with companies such as AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and others. He has led a variety of organizations charged with building networks, including projects to improve resilience of wireless communications sites, manage new data center design and construction, and oversee project management and construction. Fowler’s public sector experience includes past director for Chiloquin Fire & Rescue and past Committee Chair of Klamath County Budget Committee. He currently serves on the Community School board of directors in Chiloquin. He lives on his family’s ranch in the Chiloquin area with his wife, Anna, and three children, Tyler, Ethan, and Sydney.
Morgan Lindsay is an emergency management professional with more than 15 years experience. She has spent the majority of her career in the Oregon Air National Guard. Notably, she was stationed at Misawa Air Force Base in Japan when the Tohoku earthquake struck in 2011 and assisted with response and recovery efforts of the air base, as well as nuclear radiation monitoring of the Fukushima power plant. Morgan was the Klamath County emergency manager from 2014 until earlier this year. She led the county through the regional Cascadia Rising preparedness exercise in 2016. Lindsay has a master’s degree in English and currently she is the director of inspections and exercises and a public affairs officer at Kingsley Field Air National Guard base.
Richard Valencia has been the Safety & Security Manager for Sky Lakes Medical Center for the past six years. He oversees emergency preparedness for the medical center. His prior experience includes 21 years in law enforcement in the San Francisco Bay Area, retiring in 2001. He also has spent 19 years in corporate security, overseeing security and emergency management operations for both high tech corporations and healthcare facilities in San Francisco and the northern Sacramento Valley. Valencia received training from FEMA and Homeland Security in the field of emergency management.
Brandon Thueson is the Division Chief-Fire Marshal for the Klamath County Fire District No. 1 as Division Chief-Fire Marshal since November 2018. He has more than22 years experience in the fire service in many capacities, including an emergency medical technician, apparatus driver, station captain, deputy fire marshal, battalion chief-fire marshal and deputy chief-fire marshal. He was President of the Fire Marshals Association of Utah, where he helped develop the state fire code, helped develop the state’s fire investigator curriculums and was an instructor for the Utah Fire and Rescue Academy. He has an Associate’s of Applied Science/Fire Officer Emphasis degree from Utah Valley University. Thueson worked for a private company performing third-party plan reviews and code consulting and providing input on technical subjects such as fire suppression systems, fire alarm systems, smoke control systems, elevator systems, egress control systems and emergency responder radio coverage systems for large projects in Nevada, California and Washington.
Erin Cox is an environmental engineer and professor in Oregon Tech’s Civil Engineering Department, where she serves as the principal investigator for OIT’s Water Assessment for Drought Resilience & Sustainability (WADRS) sponsored project. After receiving a Master’s degree in Water Resources Science and Environmental Engineering from the University of Minnesota, Erin worked as a Project Manager and Client Service Manager for CH2M HILL, where she managed dozens of projects throughout the United States. While at CH2M, she received the Quarterly Achievement Award from Southeast Region for Top Client Growth for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District. She was also the recipient of four achievement awards from CH2M’s South Central Region for her business development work. Erin serves the local community on the Sky Lakes Foundation Board of Directors, Sky Lakes Hospital Cancer Advisory and Scholarship Committees, CARES, Community Police Advisory Committee, and Friends of the Children.