Ron Averill of Centralia was chosen as the new chairman of the Washington Emergency Management Council on March 3.
The Emergency Management Council functions to advise the Adjutant General and the governor concerning state and local emergency plans, policies and grants.
Averill graduated from the University of Southern California and also served in Vietnam, in which he received the Bronze Star twice. A retired U.S. Army colonel, Averill worked with the state of Hawaii Military Department Division of Civil Defense, planning emergencies strategies for two years. He also worked as a political science and international relations professor at Hawaii Pacific University and South Puget Sound Community College; he then served as the dean of Social Sciences at SPSCC.
Averill has also served as the Lewis County commissioner, is on the advisory council for the Washington State Association of Counties, serves on the Chehalis Basin Flood Authority and assists the Washington State Association of Counties.
Averill gained specific flood experience in 2007, when a flood closed Interstate 5 in Centralia. This then prompted him to learn more about the state's relationship with the local government concerning safety regulations. His work in Lewis County provided better early warning and responses and provided up-to-date emergency plans. He began working on the Emergency Management Council in 2010 through the governor of the time, Chris Gregoire.
Although Averill has never personally been flooded, as his house is up past 200 feet in elevation, he noted he has been unable to leave the hill he lives on multiple occasions, and that he still has flood preparation materials.
He hopes that communication and coordination can be improved, though he also made clear the need for grace.
“The EMC is an advisory board to the TAG and the governor on emergency management, not an operating agency,” Averill said. “We need to remember that all of the members of the council have full-time jobs and responsibilities, so their responsibility of articulating policy, system challenges, intergovernmental coordination and funding needs requires adequate staff support to provide the documentation.”