Earthquake-Tsunami Task Force: Get to work to be better prepared for Cascadia Subduction Zone Quake and Tsunami
Governor Kitzhaber’s Task Force on Earthquake and Tsunami Resiliency has been studying what can be done to better prepare western Oregon for the inevitable: a 9 Richter earthquake, triggering a large tsunami coming ashore just as the world watched in March of 2011. Thousands of Japanese lost their lives and billions upon billions of damage was inflicted along the east coast of the country.
Scientists say the same thing will happen to the American west coast ranging from Vancouver Island Canada to the north to near the San Francisco Bay area to the south.
For the most part scientists say this stretch of coastline, as well as interior valleys, are woefully unprepared to deal with such an event, triggered every 325 years or so, on average, as the Pacific geologic plate thrusts underneath the North American plate. During the quake, the coastline will fall three to ten feet depending on the location and local geology and will be followed by a 50 to 100 foot tsunami coming ashore, taking everything with it back out to sea when it recedes.
The governor’s task force urges that one hundred million dollars be spent every year for the foreseeable future to inventory critical aspects of our important infrastructure of roads, dams, fuel lines, water and sewer collection and distribution pipes, ports, airports, transportation and bridge systems – schools, power plants and all other vital fixtures in our communities. And part of those assessments will involve ascertaining what can be done to shore up those facilities or to in anyway harden them against such a disaster. Also whether its feasible to relocate some of those assets to get them out of the tsunami inundation zone.
The task force also urges that assessments be made of all buildings; commercial, residential, industrial and public, to ascertain which ones pose the greatest danger to their users or to their neighboring structures. Also that local jurisdictions analyze carefully, in light of the new tsunami inundation zone maps, where NOT to build new structures.
And the task force recommends that a big commitment be made between emergency responding agencies and their communities to distribute critically important information on all impacts from an active subduction zone region like the Oregon Coast.
The complete package of recommendations will be presented to next year’s Oregon Legislature.