Published on Thu, Dec 21, 2006
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Residents and businesses are asked to report wind damage
Whatcom County residents and businesses that have experienced wind related damage on December 14 and 15 to their primary dwelling or place of business are requested to report damage to the Division of Emergency Management at 360/676-6681 as soon as possible. The collection of damage information must be completed by noon on December 22, 2006. Damage to secondary or recreational homes are not eligible for assistance, but should be reported.

Call 360/676-6681 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to report damage to businesses or homes.

Sheriff issues warning to kayakers and other boaters
The Whatcom County sheriff’s office seeks the assistance of the media in warning kayakers and other operators of small craft of the need to stay abreast of weather and water conditions before venturing out into Bellingham Bay and other open water. Recent rescues of kayakers in Bellingham Bay highlight the risks of failing to exercise appropriate caution.

On December 11, four kayakers left the shore despite well-publicized notice of 45- to 55-knot winds and nine- to 12-foot seas.  Weather and sea conditions caused two of the kayakers to become stranded in the 48-degree weather. Although equipped with survival suits, the equipment was not adequate to sustain the victims for an extended time period.

Fortunately, the kayakers were equipped with a VHF radio and were able to call out a “Mayday.” When Coast Guard air assets were unable to rescue the kayakers, a 150-foot tugboat diverted from another assignment and pulled the kayakers from the bay.  

On November 24 (Thanksgiving Day), a kayaker became stranded in the water when weather and sea conditions worsened.  He was separated from his kayak because of wind conditions. Although a fellow kayaker was able to regain control of the empty kayak, the victim had to swim for about five minutes in the cold water to catch up with it. By this time he was so fatigued and hypothermic, he was unable to maintain balance or stay on the kayak. Fortunately, a radio was available and fellow kayakers were able to contact the U.S. Coast Guard who rescued the victim.

These incidents highlight the need for kayakers and operators of other small craft to take appropriate precautions that include: one) paying close attention to weather forecasts and marine advisories; two) avoid entering the open water in dangerous and potentially dangerous conditions; three) carrying and maintaining competence in the use of safety equipment including exposure suits and VHF radios.

When operators fail to take appropriate precautions they not only endanger themselves, but also expose others to unnecessary risks and financial costs. Operators who fail to carry the required equipment may face fines and financial responsibility for rescue costs.