From Oregon Office of Emergency Management
Much media attention has focused on the Cascadia Subduction Zone, an area off the Pacific Coast that threatens to deliver the most destructive earthquake and tsunami in North American history. While the topic has recently gained interest from the public and media, state and federal partners have been working with city, county and tribal emergency management entities to plan for this real eventuality, and working for many years to hone response plans and to ensure emergency response partners are systematically coordinated to save lives and property when the “big one” hits.
Much of this planning will be put to the test over four days, June 7-10, when Cascadia Rising, a region-wide emergency functional exercise, is conducted. It’s called a functional exercise because it tests specific functions and capabilities that emergency management agencies execute to respond to such an event.
As an emergency preparedness exercise that encompasses all aspects of emergency response, the exercise brings together multiple states (Oregon, Washington, Idaho), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to prepare for a mega 8.0-9.0+ earthquake. Major Oregon cities, 23 counties, 9 tribal nations, 17 state agencies and departments, the American Red Cross, and two private sector partner organizations have signed on to participate.
Emergency Operations and Coordination Centers (EOC/ECCs) at all levels of government will activate to coordinate simulated field response operations within their jurisdictions and with neighboring communities, state EOCs/ECCs, FEMA and a variety of military resources.
“Cascadia Rising will assess plans, as well as our ability to communicate and coordinate to help to ensure that our emergency response partners across the region are working effectively and efficiently to protect lives, property and the environment during a catastrophic disaster,” says Andrew Phelps, OEM director. “It’s an opportunity to provide decision makers with information to put plans and tactics into motion with the urgency of a real a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami, or other disasters.”
Although Cascadia Rising is not geared toward public participation, Phelps notes that Cascadia Rising provides an opportunity to demonstrate to the public that government agencies are diligently working to be prepared for emergencies – the essence of public safety and community resilience.
The public may be kept abreast of Cascadia Rising activities through social and traditional media, including a Cascadia Rising kickoff Twitter chat on June 6 using hashtags #CascadiaRising, #CascadiaEQ.
“Cascadia Rising is a perfect time for everyone to evaluate their family emergency plan and update or establish emergency kits,” added Phelps. “Remind yourself and family members of established exit routes, contacts, meeting places and other aspects of your emergency plan that will be vital for you and your family’s well-being after a disaster.”