Waldport dumping their old tsunami sirens but preparing for both ‘distant’ and ‘Cascadia’ tsunami event
Lincoln County Emergencies Manager Jenny Demaris is making the rounds of local cities, helping them to be better prepared for any emergency, but for earthquakes and tsunamis especially.
Demaris told the Waldport City Council Thursday that much of Waldport’s business area and a large number of homes are just a few feet above sea level and therefore are directly in the path of most distant tsunamis and definitely in the event of a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake 250 miles off the coast of Oregon and the large tsunami that would be created from it.
Demaris said a distant tsunami created by an Alaskan earthquake could damage Waldport but nothing like the disaster power of a Cascadia event. Demaris said updated tsunami inundation and escape route maps are about to be delivered throughout Lincoln County so locals and tourists can know which way is up and which route to take to get there.
Demaris outlined a number of public outreach events coming up in May. On May 1st at noon, there will be a news conference held at the the Lincoln County Commission Chambers where officials will introduce the new tsunami evacuation maps for communities throughout Lincoln County and a preview of the county’s information outreach campaign.
Here it is:
* Leading off the campaign will be two Tsunami Readiness Rallies in Lincoln City May 7th – both at the Lincoln City Cultural Center at 540 NE Highway 101. One at 3pm, the other at 7pm. The new tsunami maps and other emergency preparedness information will be shared by the Oregon Department of Geology and the Lincoln County Office of Emergency Management.
* On May 9th, another Tsunami Readiness Rally will be held at 6:30pm at Waldport High School on Hemlock/Highway 34 in Waldport. The new evacuation maps will be handed out and other information as was given in Lincoln City.
* The same for Newport residents on May 11th, at 10am. The Tsunami Readiness Rally will be conducted at the Agate Beach Best Western just off Highway 101 just north of Walmart.
* And then another Tsunami Readiness Rally will be held May 18th, 10:30am, for the Bayshore and Sandpiper communities north of Waldport guided by personnel from the Seal Rock Fire District.
The Waldport City Council then talked about the town’s aging tsunami warning sirens. It was agreed that all three of the 55 year old devices should be retired due to age and the fact they don’t work well anyway. Emergencies Manager Jennie Demaris says many communities are not relying on tsunami sirens since even when they are activated many people inside their homes and while driving in their cars can’t hear them. She said the widely used “Everbridge” notification system is far more effective at notifying residents of an approaching tsunami via email, text, cellphone, internet news websites as well as over local TV and radio stations. However, that’s just for tsunamis generated in Alaska, Japan, South America, Indonesia and other seismically active areas around the Pacific Ocean’s Ring of Fire. If it’s the Cascadia earthquake, the shaking itself will be your only tsunami warning. When the shaking is over, everyone is to immediately head for higher ground and stay there until an all clear signal is given.
Demaris says getting everyone in Lincoln County up to speed on being prepared for distant tsunamis and the Cascadia “big one” is going to be a big job – but it’s got to be done in order to save as many lives as can be saved. “The better prepared we are, the more people will survive it,” she said.