During a Disaster


  • Earthquake - "Drop, take cover, and hold on." This means you should drop to the ground, get under a sturdy shelter, maybe a desk or table, and hold on until the ground stops shaking. When the earthquake is over, follow the instructions of local authorities and put your family's emergency plan into place.
  • Explosion - Take shelter under a desk or table during the explosion, and exit the building as soon as possible once it’s over. Avoid using elevators and be careful of hot doors, since there may be fire on the other side.
  • Fire evacuation - 
    • In your home - have a fire evacuation plan for your family with multiple routes of escape from all rooms of the house. If you live in a multi-level home, consider installing escape ladders in the upper levels. If a fire occurs, get out immediately. Do not put yourself in danger by placing a phone call or gathering your valuables.
    • In your neighborhood - pay heed to posted evacuation levels.
      • Level 1 ALERT - A wildfire threat is in your area. It would be wise to consider planning and/or packing, in the event an evacuation becomes necessary
      • LEVEL 2  EVACUATION WARNING or NOTICE: - High probability of a need to evacuate. Prepare now by packing necessary items and preparing your family, pets, and vehicle for the potential departure
      • LEVEL 3 EVACUATION REQUEST or ORDER - You will be asked to leave within a specified time period by pre-designated routes. Perimeter roadblocks are typically established.
  • Flood -Listen to the television or radio for information on where the flooding is happening. In the case of a flood warning in your area, you may be advised to evacuate; in this case, do so immediately. If you are under a flash flood warning, seek higher ground immediately. Several agencies in Columbia County often offer self-serve sandbag locations during floods. Columbia County will list locations when this occurs. 

  • Tornado - You should be prepared for a tornado no matter where you live. In a tornado situation, take shelter in a basement, storm cellar, or the most interior room of your home. Stay away from windows, doors, and exterior walls. If you are outside and cannot get to shelter, lie flat in a ditch or other low location.


During a disaster, you may be asked to "shelter in place." This means selecting a small, interior room, with no or few windows, and taking refuge there until responders inform you otherwise. 

Learn about sheltering in place→


If you are able to volunteer to help others during a disaster, we encourage you to seek out opportunities with organizations that support our communities. More information can be found via the Columbia County Citizen Corps Council. CCCC empowers individuals to become citizen responders by providing training and education. The Council plays a vital role in supporting county disaster response volunteer organizations making our county safe, resilient, and prepared to respond to natural and human-caused disasters.

  • Learn more about the Columbia County Citizen Corps Council
  • ARES→ - volunteers with the Columbia County Amateur Radio Emergency Service provide a backup emergency communications system in response to disasters
  • CERT→ - the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates volunteers about disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations
  • MRC→ - the Medical Reserve Corps is a national network of volunteers, organized locally to improve the health and safety of their communities.

Emergency Management Quick Links
General Information
Phone Numbers
Fax: 503-366-4904
Emergencies: Dial 911
230 Strand St.
Columbia County Courthouse Annex
St. Helens,

Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.