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Riding out a big one in Ecuador by former Newport resident…

Joni Wheeler-Sims Ex-pat in Ecuador

Joni Wheeler-Sims
Ex-pat in Ecuador

Joni Wheeler-Sims recently moved from the Oregon Coast to the high Andes of Ecuador – a place that just had a deadly and widely destructive earthquake – a subduction zone earthquake similar to what is forecasted for our spot on the American west coast “any time now.”

So Joni offered these words of wisdom, if not survival, to all her friends in the Newport area….

Recent severe earthquakes in Chile, Japan, and Ecuador have brought to light how totally unprepared most people are despite knowing they live in a high risk area like the Oregon Coast. I live nearly 300 miles from the epicenter of the Ecuador quake, and my apartment building rocked significantly. Bend Oregon is less than 200 miles from the Pacific Ocean, and there were casualties and nearly 280 miles from the 7.8 earthquake in Ecuador, so don’t think you do not need be prepared just because you are not living on the coast.

I’m not trying to be a doomsday advocate, but are you prepared? Waiting for the earthquake to occur is not the time to decide what you should do.
Here are some tips, some things I have learned, and a Red Cross preparedness flyer which has great advice and tips so you can be a survivor.

The “triangle of life” is a myth. Most earthquake injuries are due to falling objects and building collapse in the case of mega quakes. Officials of many agencies, including the American Red Cross and the United States Geological Survey, have criticized the “Triangle of Life” theory, saying that it is a “misguided idea” and inappropriate for countries with modern building construction standards where total building collapse is unlikely.

YOU ARE SAFER PRACTICING THE “DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON” maneuver under a sturdy piece of furniture like a strong desk or table. If indoors, stay there. Drop to the floor, make yourself small and get under a desk or table or stand in a corner. If outdoors, get into an open area away from trees, buildings, walls and power lines. If in a high-rise building, stay away from windows and outside walls, stay out of elevators, and get under a table. If driving, pull over to the side of the road and stop. Avoid overpasses and power lines. Stay inside your car until the shaking is over. If in a crowded public place, do not rush for the doors. Crouch and cover your head and neck with your hands and arms. You should practice the “DROP, COVER AND HOLD ON” method at work and at home at least twice a year.

If you are a survivor in an area that has a mega quake, YOU WILL NEED WATER. If it is hot, your need will be desperate. Having an emergency water supply is more than just important, it’s a necessity. The people of Kumomoto STILL only have access to bottled water for drinking and no potable water otherwise. I know of US citizens on the Ecuador coast that are boiling the little water that didn’t slosh out of their swimming pool and sharing with their neighbors. Water is no joke.

Food that does not need to be cooked.

Keeping a flashlight and sturdy pair of shoes by your bed is extremely good advice. Both the Kumamoto, Japan and Pedernales, Ecuador quakes happened after dark. It is difficult to run in the dark from a tsunami and even more difficult if you don’t have any shoes.

Facebook has a fabulous ” check in safe” program. They contact you if you have identified you live in a City that has experienced a disaster. You can check in yourself, and your friends if you know them to be well. Your friends and family will be able to see that you have been marked safe. Google also has a person finder, if you are looking for someone or would like to report yourself OK.

Here’s that Red Cross flyer:

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 2.39.10 AMScreen Shot 2016-04-22 at 2.39.43 AM

Joni and hubby Gary are doing fine. They have been through several aftershocks that have made their way far inland and high up into the Andes Mountain town of Cuenca where they have retired.

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