Monday, May 19, 2008

Mt. St. Helens: 18 years and counting

Yesterday marked the 18th anniversary of the last major eruption of Mt. St. Helens, an event that then-President Jimmy Carter called the worst natural disaster of the century in the United States.

Recognizing the health implications of the event for patrons throughout northwestern Oregon and southwestern Washington, the reference staff of the then-University of Oregon Health Sciences Library immediately began collecting information. Starting on June 1, 1980, the Federal Coordinating Office of FEMA began issuing bulletins from the Mount St. Helens Technical Information Network. UOHSC Library staff obtained all of the bulletins--33 in total--along with newspaper stories, research articles from medical journals, and other ephemera.

One of the glossier pieces in this collection was provided by the Emanuel Medical Center Foundation. The foundation's magazine, OutReach, came out in a special double issue, Days of the Volcano, in the fall of 1980. As the issue preface notes: "[The eruption] also focused a great deal of attention on Emanuel Hospital where some of the volcano victims were brought for treatment. This issue of OutReach is devoted to telling the story of those patients, the people who cared for them, and the people who were responsible for keeping the state's largest medical center operational during ash fallout, a visit by the President to view the volcano's aftermath, and the frantic search of relatives looking for family members lost when the mountain erupted."

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