When “The Big One” hits, living on the coast will be forever changed. To help in that transition that begins right after the shaking stops and a sequence of tsunamis come ashore and do their worst upon us, the U.S. Military – especially the Navy – will swing into action and start doing what they do best – getting emergency supplies ashore to the stricken areas. With the Cascadia Subduction Zone, that’s likely to be from Point Reyes California to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, Canada.
To demonstrate how those initial food, medicine and other vital supplies will be delivered, the U.S.S. Anchorage will drop anchor offshore of Newport on July 31st. At 8:30am, crews will deploy an amphibious landing craft to make a bee line to the South Beach Marina where they will offload engineering equipment and reload back up with emergency vehicles being stored at the Newport National Guard Armory destined for Grays Harbor, Washington.
The exercise, they say, will demonstrate emergency response capabilities at all levels of local, state and federal governments. It will also demonstrate the effectiveness in ordering, distributing and receiving emergency resources along the Oregon Coast following a catastrophic disaster.
It should be a sight to see as the inter-agency coordination plays out from the USS Anchorage offshore, the landing craft coming into the harbor, the exchange at the marina and then heading back out to the ship.
Although the operation, which will run from 8:30am to 10:30am, will use the South Beach Marina as a landing point, emergency preparedness officials point out that after a large Cascadia earthquake, the Yaquina Bay Bridge will more than likely have fallen and will block any entry into the bay. Helicopter equipped ships from off shore will likely just drop supplies and other critical resources at strategic locations coupled with some water landing craft depending on which beaches remain viable for such operations. One element of the earthquake is that the coastline will sink – down 10 feet or more, so beach access will be affected when the final “lay of the land” settles out after the quake.
Agencies involved include the U.S. Navy, Pacific Third Fleet, Oregon Military Department, Washington Military Department, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Coast Guard Yaquina Bay, Port of Newport, and the City of Newport.