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.
When “the big one” hits the Oregon Coast, the Cascadia earthquake will also generate a large tsunami which means everyone in low lying areas must find higher ground within 15 to 20 minutes. At South Beach, higher ground is largely in the form of what’s called “Safe Haven Hill.” It’s a 100 foot high forested mound at the south end of the Yaquina Bay Bridge. Currently it’s largely inaccessible due to heavy vegetation and primitive trails and only a low grade gravel road.
Newport City Councilors are applying for a FEMA grant to upgrade the road and pathways as well as flattening the hilltop to accomodate hundreds, if not thousands of tsunami refugees. However, the city won’t know for a while whether the FEMA grant to cover 75% of the estimated $557,000 cost will indeed be forthcoming.
Rather than wait around to see what FEMA is willing to chip in, Newport city councilors are expected to approve spending a minimal amount to ensure the hill is reasonably accessible via the road and the north pathway. Councilors say they don’t want to spend large sums of money on the project that would not be reimbursable by a FEMA grant hopefully will eventually come their way.
The Newport City Council begins its twice a month meeting Monday evening, 6pm, at Newport City Hall.
After long discussions and planning, the Depoe Bay City Council learned Tuesday evening that their long-awaited tsunami warning sirens, running from one end of Depoe Bay and beyond to the south, will be up and running no later than mid-October. That’s the latest from Depoe Bay’s Public Works Superintendent Terry Owings who said that the new sirens will be mounted on five tall poles, about 60 feet off the ground. The most northern siren will be erected on Lillian Street near the south end of WorldMark. The next one to the south will be erected on Sunset. Then a little south of there on Winchell overlooking the harbor. Then south of there at the Sewer Plant. And then fifth one on the east side of Highway 101 just south of the entrance to Little Whale Cove.
Owings said that the sirens can also be used as a public address system for the whole area in the event of some other emergency. So it’s not just for tsunami warnings. No later than mid-October, be prepared to hear some testing of those sirens.
Depoe Bay City Councilors Tuesday night learned from Public Works Superintendent Terry Owings that five, very loud and brand new, tsunami warning sirens will be installed along Highway 101 from near Whale Cove Inn on the south to Thundering Shores to the north. They will also have the capability of acting like a bullhorn for public announcements as to the status of the ocean and any tsunami wave activity. Owings says they’re working out the placement of the tall power poles and getting power to them, along with communications capabilities for voice messaging to the public. He said it’s requiring tight scheduling with Central Lincoln People’s Utility District, the manufacturer and the installer, GB Manchester Corporation. Owings says the tsunami warning system should be up, tested and ready to go in the event of a tsunami by mid-Summer.
The Depoe Bay Fire District, in cooperation with Lincoln County Emergency Management, Oregon Emergency Management and other local public safety agencies will be hosting Emergency Readiness Fairs and Earthquake/Tsunami Road Shows Saturday throughout Lincoln County. Residents are encouraged to drop in to the readiness fairs or plan to attend during the presentation by Althea Rizzo with Oregon Emergency Management.
Jenny Demaris Lincoln County Emergency Manager said there will be an opportunity to sign up and learn more about Everbridge, Citizen Alert systems, hosted by Lincoln County Emergency Management Volunteers. This will be an opportunity for citizens who do not have computer or Internet access to sign up and create their own profile.
The readiness fairs are set for Saturday, March 17th from 9am-12n at the Gleneden Beach Fire Station on Gleneden Beach Loop Road, north of Depoe Bay, and in Newport at City Hall on Highway 101 at Avery from 3pm-7pm.
The events will feature informational booths on the latest in tsunami and earthquake preparedness. There will also be general readiness stations with information about water purification, food storage and sanitation, family emergency disaster planning by the Red Cross and more.
Earthquake and Tsunami Preparedness Fair
Toledo Fire Department
Lincoln County’s Office of Emergency Management has been telling residents from one end of Lincoln County to the other, that they can survive an earthquake and the following tsunami if they prepare for it. Today, Earthquake and Tsunami Preparedness Fairs were held in Yachats and Toledo. The message was the same at each location. If you’re prepared, you’re far more likely to survive than if you aren’t. A strong earthquake plus a tsunami means everyone needs a survival kit with enough food to last up to three weeks plus temporary shelter if your home is not longer safe to live in. You’ll need your prescription drugs and any other medical supplies that would last that long, because it may take a week or more for initial help to get here after a major seismic and tsunami event. All roads to the valley would likely be either broken up or covered with massive mudslides not to mention damage to bridges if they remained standing at all.
From the photos to the left, you can see what happens when cabinets are not properly latch-locked. A water heater breaks loose because it’s not secured to the wall. The gas line breaks, a spark ignites the gas, and the whole house goes up in flame. Securing your water heater to the wall is the best fire prevention there is, according to experts.
Other precautions include bolting the frame of your home to its foundation on the exterior of the house. All major electronics like big screen TV’s and computer screens should be secured and cabinets and drawers likewise should have secure clips to keep drawers and swinging doors shut.
Don’t forget your pets. They need food and water along with all their shot records and preferably a photo so they can be easily identified. To the left there is a photo of what 21 days worth of food, per person looks like. It’s largely non-perishable foods that don’t necessarily need cooking or heating before consuming. Don’t forget the can opener! Or your personal records and important papers. They also should be included in your survival kit.
Something else that was demonstrated at the Toledo Earthquake and Tsunami Preparedness Fair today was a water purification device that can produce 750 gallons an hour of safe, drinkable water straight out of a swimming pool or a creek. Each community should have a number of them.
Then there’s the issue of a tsunami. Those who live in a tsunami inundation zone need to get out as fast as they can to higher ground, preferably 100 feet above sea level or higher. Science based estimates of the kind of tsunami that could come ashore varies from 30 to 100 feet. Highway 101 that runs through Newport is a little over 100 above sea level along most stretches. But those living or working in South Beach and areas north of Newport and along the Bay Road to Toledo need to figure out how to get up the hills behind their homes in a hurry. A few practice drills probably would help, keeping in mind that a Cascadia earthquake could send a tsunami ashore within 15 to 20 minutes.
In the final picture is Toledo Mayor Ralph Grutzmacher talking with Cece Pratt of the Red Cross. Mayor Grutzmacher reminds everyone that Toledo will likely become a sort of refugee center following a quake or tsunami. He says Toledo has set aside clear areas for “settlements” that will be needed to accommodate “visitors” while they and Toledo townspeople wait for relief from the outside world. Lincoln County Emergency Services Coordinator Jenny Demaris says there are a number of scenarios that could play out, including waits of up to one to three weeks before substantial relief from the rest of the country can filter in. It’s likely to be by air since all roads and bridges would be impassable. Ships would show up off the Yaquina Bar and probably sit in line waiting to unload their food, medical supplies and other life necessities. The continuous drone of helicopters overhead would keep the sky buzzing all hours of the day and night.
In the end, emergency preparedness experts say it all comes down to being prepared. To help you be just that, you can read about everything there is to know about coping with the one-two punch of an earthquake and tsunami. It’s all on the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Emergency Preparedness website. Just click here. Those who would like more help understanding all this or those withs special needs can call Lincoln County Sheriff’s office Emergency Services Coordinator Jenny Demaris at 541-265-4199 or e-mail her at VDemaris@Co.Lincoln.OR.US Demaris says each Lincoln County city has an emergency services official who can also help you.