A new report published by the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission, a group comprised of more than 150 volunteer experts, makes a pretty grim prediction for the Northwest—WHEN—not IF—a mega earthquake and tsunami occur just off the Pacific Northwest coast. At a meeting held March 14, 2013, the Commission told Oregon legislators that more than 10,000 people could die—coastal towns would be inundated—schools, buildings and bridges would collapse—and economic damage could hit $32 billion.
In 2011, the Oregon Legislature authorized the study of what would happen if a quake and tsunami such as the one that devastated Japan hit the Pacific Northwest. Seismic experts say another monster quake and tsunami are overdue. “This earthquake will hit us again,” Ken Yu, an engineer and chairman of the Commission told lawmakers. “It’s just a matter of how soon.” And when it does, there will be devastation and death from Northern California to British Columbia. Many Oregon communities will be left without water, power, heat and telephone service. Gasoline supplies will be disrupted.
The Japan quake and tsunami that hit in 2011 were a wakeup call for the Pacific Northwest. Geologically, Oregon and Japan are mirror images. Despite the devastation in Japan, that country was more prepared than Oregon because it had spent billions on technology to reduce the damage. Jay Wilson, the Advisory Commission’s Vice Chairman, was able to visit Japan and said he was profoundly affected as he walked through villages ravaged by the tsunami. “It was just as if these communities were ghost towns, and for the most part there was nothing left,” said Wilson, who works for the Clackamas County Emergency Management Department.
Experts representing a variety of state agencies, industries and organizations weighed in on the report’s findings and shared with lawmakers how they have begun planning. Maree Wacker, Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross of Oregon, said it is important for residents to have their own contingency plans for natural disasters. “Oregonians as individuals are underprepared.”
The American Red Cross offers an earthquake app to help prepare your family and home, find help and let others know you are safe even if the power is out. From your mobile phone, call “**REDCROSS” (**73327677), and the Red Cross will send you a link to download the app to your phone, or you can download them directly from the iTunes or Google Play app stores.
How are YOU coming on YOUR preparation plans? It’s time.