Oregon is leading innovative tsunami wayfinding enhancements on the west coast with a project called the Tsunami Blue Line to purchase materials for local communities to mark tsunami evacuation routes and install new tsunami evacuation signs. The Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is coordinating the program and working with the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries to utilize funding from the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation program for the project.
“Encouraging people to practice their routes to safety is one of the best ways to save lives during a tsunami,” said OEM Geologic Hazards Coordinator Althea Rizzo. “The Tsunami Blue Line pilot project is one of several ways Oregonians are working to prepare for tsunamis.”
The project is one of the first of its kind in the U.S. inspired by a recent program the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office in New Zealand. Communities paint a blue line, with additional signage on the roadway, along the line leading to the evacuation zone. The Oregon pilot project will work with the communities of Florence, Reedsport, Coos Bay and Gold Beach to install these Blue Line markers on selected routes.
Rizzo will deliver the signs that are scheduled to be installed by March 11, which is the 5-year anniversary of the Tohoku subduction earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011. The Japanese subduction zone that led to a massive earthquake and tsunami is similar to the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the coast of Oregon.
“We want to help people get to high ground safely, and Oregon has been working for several years to develop how we mark and define tsunami evacuation routes,” added Rizzo. “Now is a good time to practice using tsunami evacuation routes to learn how far uphill and inland you will have to go, and how long it will take.”
Depending where you are on the Oregon coast, it could take from five to 30 minutes to get to high ground.
OEM is also encouraging participation in a Tsunami WalkOut on March 11-12 to practice evacuation routes and promote public awareness of emergency evacuation routes. There is an online tool to find tsunami routes at oregontsunami.org.
“All you have to do is type in your address, find the route and practice,” said Rizzo.
Share your WalkOut on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag, #ORTsunami.