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About 100 representatives from 22 Oregon water and wastewater utilities will participate in a September 21 conference, the first to be held by OrWARN, a statewide emergency preparedness initiative conceived in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans nearly two years ago.
Based on the national WARN (Water and Wastewater Agency Response Network), OrWARN’s network of utilities have pledged to help other Oregon utilities recover from emergencies.
Mike Stuhr, chief engineer at the Portland Water Bureau, said an Oregon WARN program was suggested in New Orleans while he and the other 34 members of a PWB task force were helping the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans restore water and sewer service after Hurricane Katrina.
Struck by the horrendous situation in New Orleans, the Portland utility management and employees felt compelled to ensure that Oregon utilities would be there for each other in the event of a disaster. Large and small utilities they contacted across the state were equally concerned and committed to creating OrWARN.
OrWarn’s first annual conference, to be held September 21 in Bend, Ore., features sessions on how WARN is used in the workplace and how to manage the help you get, and what it took to deploy the PWB teams to New Orleans.
Other conference topics include a detailed look at the WARN agreement, a demonstration of the new OrWARN Web site (to be online in October), a presentation by the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, and emergency training programs.