Nearly 230 people took part in Thursdays South Beach Tsunami Drill as they left their offices, homes and businesses at NOAA, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon Coast Aquarium, Rogue Brewery and others and headed for Safe Haven Hill – the hill at the south end of the Yaquina Bay Bridge.
The walk took just a little under 15 minutes, which is an amount of time those heading for higher ground could avoid the tsunami after a Cascadia Subduction earthquake.
The trail at the north end of the hill was a faster ascent than the road at the south end. Mayor Mark McConnell said the drill was a good learning experience that pointed out the trail needs to be stair-stepped, and the south road should be strengthened and hard-graveled. Maybe some rip-rapping around possible receding water scour points around the base as well. The clearing made recently at the top of the hill comfortably accommodated the over two hundred people who participated in the drill. However, an estimated two thousand or so people could be expected to make the dash to the top in the event of a real tsunami.
McConnell says the city has applied for a federal FEMA grant to get all the modifications done, but in the meantime they’ll make minor improvements until the grant arrives. He said whatever work the city does on the hill would be deducted from the grant, so the more the city does, the smaller the grant gets.
Next Thursday the entire state of Oregon will be asked to participate in the Great Oregon Shake-Out in which another Cascadia Subduction earthquake drill will be held. For Lincoln County residents it will mean knowing where their homes or businesses lie on the tsunami inundation zone maps and where to walk, or run, to higher ground. That drill will begin Thursday, at 10:18am, the same as yesterday’s drill at South Beach.