While Central Oregon residents and visitors to our area will never have to face the threat of a tsunami or hurricane locally, there ARE a number of natural events that could pose a natural disaster threat to Deschutes County. According to the 2010 Deschutes County Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan, the following natural hazards present the greatest threat to area residents and visitors:

Table 3.4.1 - Natural Hazard Identification for Deschutes County Hazard

Probability of Occurrence

Vulnerability Assessment


Wildland Fire




Severe Winter Storms








Volcanic Eruption




Earthquake *




*Although not directly associated with Deschutes County, the Cascadia Subduction Zone which lies off the Oregon Coast would impact the County.  The odds of this earthquake occurring are 1 in 3 during our lifetime.  Because of the potential size and magnitude of this earthquake, it would be wise for citizens to practice non-structural earthquake mitigation, and because Deschutes County gets most of its supplies from the Willamette Valley citizens need to keep shelves stocked with food in the event that our resupply channels are disrupted.

Source: 2010 Deschutes County Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan


In addition to these natural hazards, there are also a number of technological (man-made) hazards that exist. These include:

• Railroad transportation accident with or without hazardous materials spill or release;
• Aviation accident;
• Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) or CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, or Explosive) event;
• Hazardous materials release;
• Dam failure and inundation;
• Critical infrastructure disruption
• Utility grid disruption – extended power outages (both electrical and natural gas);
• Bomb threat or detonation, and

• Civil unrest or disturbance

When a disaster, no matter how large or small, does strike, residents trust that their elected officials, police, fire, and emergency medical services will respond in a coordinated, professional manner. The coordination of those efforts prior to the emergency falls to an established emergency management system and the Deschutes County Emergency Services.


What is Emergency Management?


Emergency management is the organized analysis, planning, decision-making, and assignment of available resources to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the effects of all hazards.


The goals of emergency management are to:


                              -Save lives

                    -Prevent injuries

                    -Protect property and the environment



Who is in charge of Emergency Management in Deschutes County?


Oregon law, under Oregon Revised Statute 401.305, declares that, “Each county of this state shall, and each city may, establish an emergency management agency which shall be directly responsible to the executive officer or governing body of the county or city".

In Deschutes County, the overall emergency management responsibility rests with the Deschutes County Sheriff’. The responsibility to oversee the Emergency Management program has been delegated to an appointed Emergency Manager. The Emergency Manager is not person in charge of a response to a disaster …instead, this position is responsible for coordinating the plans of the various components of the emergency management system prior to the incident, and during an emergency, assist in coordination and support of the incident with:

• Fire and police,
• Emergency medical services,
• Public works,
• Volunteers, and
• Other groups contributing to the community’s management of emergencies.

Emergency management seeks to promote safer, less-vulnerable communities with the capacity to cope with hazards and disasters. It protects communities by coordinating and integrating all activities necessary to build, sustain, and improve the capability to mitigate against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from threatened or actual natural disasters, acts of terrorism, or other man-made disasters.

Emergency Management must be:

1. Comprehensive:

  • Emergency managers consider and take into account all hazards, all phases, all stakeholders and all impacts relevant to disasters.

2. Progressive:

  • Emergency managers anticipate future disasters and take preventive and prepara¬tory measures to build disaster-resistant and disaster-resilient communities.

3. Risk-driven:

  • Emergency managers use sound risk management principles (hazard identifica¬tion, risk analysis, and impact analysis) in assigning priorities and resources.

4. Integrated:

  • Emergency managers ensure unity of effort among all levels of government and all elements of a community.

5. Collaborative:

  • Emergency managers create and sustain broad and sincere relationships among individuals and organizations to encourage trust, advocate a team atmosphere, build consensus, and facilitate communication.

6. Coordinated:

  • Emergency managers synchronize the activities of all relevant stakeholders to achieve a common purpose.

 7. Flexible:

  • Emergency managers use creative and innovative approaches in solving disaster challenges.

 8. Professional:

  • Emergency managers value a science and knowledge-based approach based on education, training, experience, ethical practice, public stewardship and continuous improvement.

The Four Primary Phases of Emergency Management


4 phases of EM.jpg


1. MITIGATION: Preventing future emergencies or minimizing their effects

a. Mitigation includes any activities that prevent an emergency, reduce the chance of an emergency happening, or reduce the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies.
b. Buying flood, earthquake and fire insurance for your home is a mitigation activity.
c. Actions may include continual assessment (risk analysis, vulnerability), public education and insurance, building codes, ordinances etc.

d. Mitigation activities take place before and after emergencies.



2. PREPAREDNESS: Preparing to handle an emergency 

a. Includes plans or preparations made to save lives, protect property and to help response and rescue operations.
b. Evacuation plans and stocking food and water, or developing a 72-hour kit are examples of preparedness.
c. Preparedness activities may include:
i. Training for various disaster response personnel
ii. Conducting exercises to test plans and responses
iii. Writing Standard Operating Procedures or an Emergency Operation Plan.
iv. Developing Mutual aid agreements

d. Preparedness activities take place before an emergency occurs.


3. RESPONSE: Responding safely to an emergency

a. Includes actions taken to save lives and prevent further property damage in an emergency situation. Response is putting your preparedness plans into action;
b. Seeking shelter from a tornado or turning off gas valves in an earthquake are both response activities;
c. Opening Red Cross Shelters;

d. Response activities take place during an emergency.



4. RECOVERY: Recovering from an emergency

a. Includes actions taken to return to a normal or an even safer situation following an emergency;
b. Recovery includes getting financial assistance to help pay for the repairs;
c. Actions may include:
i. Performing damage assessments
ii. Crises counseling
iii. Debris clearance
iv. Resolving health issues
v. Requesting State and/or federal assistance

d. Recovery activities take place after an emergency.



Important Links:


2010 Deschutes County Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan

***under construction, check back Fall 2016 for updated plan***

Deschutes County Emergency Operation Plan