East Pierce County school districts participate in lahar evacuation drill

PUYALLUP, Wash. — Students and faculty in five east Pierce County school districts participated in a massive lahar drill Friday.

A lahar, or mudflow, is composed of rocks, soil, vegetation, water and debris that flows down the slopes of a volcano and typically enters a river valley, according to the United States Geological Survey. Lahars can occur with or without a volcanic eruption.

Mount Rainier is an active volcano, and the USGS predicts a lahar event to occur in the next 500 to 1,000 years. If one occurred, communities along the Puyallup and Nisqually river valleys would be in danger.

Students in the Puyallup, Orting, Sumner-Bonney Lake, White River and Carbonado Historical school districts started walking lahar evacuation routes at 9 a.m. along with faculty and first-responders.

The drill allowed students to learn the routes and help them prepare for a real-life emergency.

Three Emergency Operation Centers around east Pierce County were activated during the drill, with each one managed by local police and emergency responders.

To see recently updated regional lahar evacuation routes, visit the East Pierce Interlocal Coalition for Emergency Management website.

For more information about lahar detection and Mount Rainier, please go to the USGS website at www.usgs.gov and watch the USGS video below.