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Rep. David Gomberg reports….

David Gomberg

A Stark Reminder to Be Prepared

Dear Neighbors and Friends,

Just before six on Saturday morning, my phone lit up with texts and ringing voice messages. I was being called to a Lincoln County “coordinator” meeting to prepare for a distant tsunami projected to arrive on the Oregon coast two hours later.

On the call, we heard from county and city responders, the Coast Guard, State Parks, and local fire departments. The response was coordinated and well organized to move people off our beaches, get them out of our marinas, and to inform, but not unnecessarily frighten, the public.

The entire West Coast, including coastal Oregon, came under a tsunami advisory after an undersea volcano erupted in spectacular fashion near the Pacific nation of Tonga. Locally, people received text messages and automated phone calls (you can learn more about emergency alerts and sign up at https://oralert.gov/ ). Responders patrolled the beaches and our ports. Neighbors, family and friends reached out to each other in what should now be a well-practiced routine.

A second coordinator call at ten reviewed the situation and our performance.

Tsunami Alert Levels

e a Distant tsunamis generally have lesser affect and more warning time than near-shore events. The National Weather Service expected waves of 1 to 3 feet. As of early afternoon, the largest Oregon coast wave reported by the agency was a 1.5-foot swell observed at Port Orford.

By late afternoon, the warning was lifted. Awkwardly, more people may have actually come to the beach because there was a warning. Plenty of people, seeing the news, flocked to see the waves. But fortunately, there were no injuries and little damage.

I am grateful to the first responders and everyone who worked to alert residents and guests, and to keep them safe. In the coming weeks, I’ve asked the legislative committee charged with emergency response, to review how Oregon reacted and if the entire coast handled this situation as well as I believe Lincoln County did.

Saturday morning was a literal and figurative wake-up-call. It was a minor event. But it was a major reminder that natural disturbances are possible and that we need to be aware and prepared.

Oregon has experienced a recent cycle of emergencies and disasters, including floods, drought, wildfires, ice storms, excessive heat, and a pandemic. If the recent disasters that have impacted our state have taught us anything, it’s that being prepared can make a big difference. Each Oregon resident should proactively prepare to be self-sufficient for at least two weeks during a disaster.

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