Finally, former Mayor Mark McConnell’s idea has finally come to pass at South Beach. A piece of the Japanese Tsunami Dock, part of a Tsunami Exhibit at Hatfield Marine Science Center, is in place, right outside the entrance to the HMSC Visitors Center.
The seven ton portion of the dock that washed ashore at Agate Beach last June 4th is sitting outside the center, perched on a pedestal with wavy accouterments at the bottom that mirror the same design as those that line the stairwells on the Yaquina Bay Bridge. Nice touch!
The piece was delivered and put into place at around 10:45am Friday, with the final resting position applauded by a small, but appreciative crowd. The piece will be cleaned up and a plaque affixed to it with a commemorative narrative about the 2011 Japanese Earthquke and Tsunami that wrenched the dock from its moorings in Misawa, Japan. Four were blown out of the water by the tsunami that followed the earthquake. Two were recovered inland of Misawa. Two others drifted across the Pacific Ocean to the U.S. West Coast; one in Newport, the other on the Olympic Peninsula just north of where Highway 101 takes a decidedly hard turn to the east and away from the ocean.
Meanwhile, Hatfield Marine Science Center officials have scheduled an official Commemoration Celebration for the dock piece’s addition to their Tsunami Education Program. That celebration is set for 2pm, March 10, at the visitors center. Plans for what to do with the rest of the tsunami dock piece are still be developing by those who are considering whether a piece of it might be appropriately placed somewhere along the Bayfront as not only a tourist attraction but also as a reminder to be aware of one’s location along the Bayfront in the event of an earthquake as well as proper notification of the appropriate escape routes to higher ground in that a tsunami would be presumably generated at the same time.
Earlier detailed references to specific locations as to where the dock would go an how the project may be funded were incorrect according to Bob Ward, who is coordinating the upgrade to the Sea Lion Dock on the Bayfront. NewsLincolnCounty.com was told by multiple sources of the information contained in the original references to a specific area along the Bayfront and possible funding mechanisms. We’ll see how it plays out.
Tsunami Dock cut Corner to be part of HMSC Tsunami Memorial
Tsunami Memorial HMSC – South Beach
Click on pictures to enlarge
The front quarter of the Japanese Tsunami Dock that came ashore in Newport June 4th of last year, has had a corner cut out of it and will transported to the Hatfield Marine Science Center (HSMC) tomorrow at around 10:30am. A corner piece of the 40-ton segment of the dock will be placed and permanently mounted at the start of the center’s Tsunami Education Trail that leads walkers from HMSC to the base of Safe Haven Hill, on the west side of Highway 101 at the south end of the Yaquina Bay Bridge.
What was the east quarter of the dock was originally shipped, along with the other pieces, to a salvage yard in Sherwood, near Portland. The dock was expected to be used as road bed material for highways. But the end section was returned to Newport so it could be used as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the March 11, 2011 Japanese Earthquake and subsequent tsunami that wreaked havoc of death and destruction along the east coast of Japan’s Honshu Island.
The dock piece will be mounted immediately east of the Hatfield Marine Science Center’s Visitors Center. A memorial plaque will be mounted on it. The memorial will be designated as an educational artifact of the immense power of Pacific Rim earthquakes and the massive destruction caused by the tsunamis they generate.
The memorial dedication will take place on Sunday, March 10th (March 11th in Japan – across the International Date Line) at 2pm. The event is free and the public is cordially invited.
Emergency planners use the film “The Impossible” to make the point on being prepared; distributing flyers to cinema lovers. This film and the entire Oscar buzz that goes with it, comes to the Historic Bijou Theater for one week and will the first film projected on the theater’s new digital system, starting Friday, March 1st.
“The Impossible” starring Naomi Watts (nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress) and Ewan McGregor is a very realistic depiction of what will occur when a tsunami hits the west coast; an event which is only a matter of time.
Being called “one of the most realistic and emotional disaster films ever made”; it is based on one family’s true story of struggle during and after the December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that killed over 230,000 people in fourteen countries.
“The film (The Impossible) drives home the importance of learning what to do” said Peter Ovington, Oregon Department of Geology; “Please see this powerful movie and volunteer with our tsunami outreach effort this spring in Lincoln County. We’ll be knocking on doors in the tsunami inundation zone and educating folks about how to prepare. It’ll take everyone’s help to get our coast tsunami-ready.”
Ovington, like so many others of us throughout the state, knows the event that is looming at our backdoor only 70 miles or so off the coast, a “local tsunami” will be far worse than what was seen in the film’s “distant tsunami.”
The harsh reality is our Cascadia Subduction Zone event will be preceded by a magnitude 9.0 quake producing a huge series of waves that will stretch 800 miles along the coast from British Columbia to northern California. It is not too hard to imagine, think back to the images of Japan during the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The good news, if there is good news, is that you can prepare for this earth-changing event. Learn what to do for a distant and local tsunami, find out and practice your evacuation route, learn first aid or join C.E.R.T., and communicate with your family about the facts.
To learn more contact North Lincoln Fire & Rescue, or get evacuation maps at www.OregonTsunami.org and if you have a Smartphone get TsunamiEvac-NW a free app of tsunami evacuation maps. To volunteer call Lynda Engle at (503) 936-7767 for more tsunami outreach information. Could save your life!
Courtesy of Fire Captain Jim Kusz
Public Information, Education and Safety Officer
North Lincoln Fire & Rescue District #1
Safe Haven Hill, south end of Yaquina Bay Bridge
Photos from Public Works Director Tim Gross
In the event of a Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake, those living and working at South Beach are directed to walk up the hill at the south end of what’s likely to be all that’s left of the Yaquina Bay Bridge. A trail on the north end of the hill and a gravel road up the south end will provide suitable access.
City Councilor Dr. Dick Beemer says work has already begun to flatten and clear the top of what is now called “Safe Haven Hill,” a hill that is supposed to hold up to four to five thousand people who are expected to scramble up its gradual slopes, up and away from what will surely be a very large tsunami
expected to arrive within fifteen minutes of the quake.
Work on shaping and clearing the hilltop is expected to continue in lieu of Federal Emergency Management Agency funds which the city has applied for. No word on when we might hear when a decision will be made by FEMA as to whether Newport will receive the grant.
So the work will be limited until the city learns whether its application is approved. Either way, the project will be completed in one fashion or another according to city officials.
Growing awareness of the potential dangers of a major earthquake and tsunami has prompted Oregon State University and community leaders in Newport to expand the scope of their annual tsunami evacuation drill.
OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center is coordinating the exercise, which will begin at 10:18 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11. Several hundred participants are expected from OSU and the federal and state agencies co-located on the South Beach peninsula, and well as employees and residents from adjacent locations. As part of the drill, Highway 101 will close for five minutes.
George Boehlert, director of the Hatfield Marine Science Center, said the 300 or so employees at the center are well aware of tsunami dangers. In fact, NOAA and OSU scientists located there conduct cutting-edge research on tsunamis and subsea earthquakes and volcanoes and they helped prompt the first drills, which last year were expanded to include all of the South Beach Peninsula neighbors.
The closest high ground for many South Beach peninsula workers and residents is a hill just west of the entrance to the Yaquina Bay Bridge. Dubbed “Safe Haven Hill”, the Oregon Department of Transportation-owned property is more than 85 feet high and estimated to accommodate several thousand people if necessary.
Although it is possible to reach the top, the hill appears overgrown and inaccessible, with access limited to two rough, steep trails. The City of Newport is aggressively pursuing grant funding to increase access.
Maryann Bozza, program manager for the OSU center and organizer of the drill, said the goal in last year’s exercise was “to reach our actual evacuation point, which is the top of the hill at 85 feet, and build confidence in our staff that we can achieve 85 feet of elevation in 15 minutes.”
“This year we’ll take the next step and throw in some obstacles, which are likely after a large earthquake,” Bozza said. “Evacuees may not be able to make a bee line for the top of the hill, so they need to be aware of alternate routes.”
The challenge of safely escorting several hundred people across the Oregon Coast’s busiest highway has become a community-wide effort. A team led by Newport Police Officer Tom Lekas includes the Newport Police, Newport Police Volunteers, Lincoln County Emergency Management, Newport Fire Department, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members, Oregon Emergency Management and Oregon Department of Transportation.
“The road closure is an inconvenience to drivers, but it is a key component of a realistic drill,” said Boehlert. “The only other route to Safe Haven Hill passes under the Yaquina Bay Bridge, which is likely to be down or unsafe after a major earthquake.”
The Oct. 11 drill will begin at 10:18 a.m., with a highway closure of less than five minutes in both directions planned for about 10:30 a.m. Several hundred participants are expected and the entire drill is expected to last one hour.
A second drill will occur on Thursday, Oct. 18, in conjunction with the statewide Great Oregon Shakeout drill, scheduled for “10/18 at 10:18.” At that drill, South Beach Peninsula participants will walk to the Oregon Coast Community College hill, which is a mile away and serves as an alternate evacuation point for South Beach peninsula employees. No highway closures are planned for that day.
The Newport City Council Monday night took the first step toward preparing the big hill south of the Yaquina Bay Bridge to be a refuge for hundreds, if not thousands of South Beach residents, workers and business people wanting to save themselves from an earthquake-caused tsunami. If it’s generated by the long-predicted Cascadia earthquake, people would have a scant 15 minutes to get to the top of the hill to avoid the tsunami that would be roaring ashore.
The council told Community Development Director Derrick Tokos to negotiate with ODOT for permits to begin making improvements. In order to make pedestrian access to the hill as fast and as easy as possible, the city wants to improve the north side trail that goes from sea level to the top. Also by improving the gravel road at the south side of the hill that winds its way to the top. Flattening the summit will also be a necessary first-step in order for the hill to accommodate a great mass of people.
Once Newport obtains permits from ODOT, work will proceed. However, the work will be just enough to make access easier from the north and south ends along with the hilltop being partially cleared and leveled. The entire job and range of improvements will await FEMA funding which covers 75% of the total cost of the project. City staff says whatever costs the city covers before the FEMA grant is awarded will be costs not reimbursed by FEMA.
Tokos told the council that state geologists have updated the tsunami maps that show which specific areas along the coast are tsunami inundation zones. The new map shows that the zones are noticeably larger than indicated on current maps. The new maps will be released within the next few weeks.