Cutler City Earthquake and Tsunami Drill, Wednesday
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Roughly fifty Cutler City residents responded to the wail of a tsunami siren today, signifying the beginning of an earthquake and tsunami drill that was conducted to see how long it took residents in the area, at extreme south Lincoln City, to get safely to higher ground.
Residents had been given two weeks warning of the drill that began at 11am, and forced the closure of Highway 101 as residents, guided by community CERT volunteers, directed them to the staging area on 101. From there they crossed the busy highway and then up a hill to a local construction materials site which is hopefully out of reach of a tsunami. However, some estimates of a tsunami generated off the Oregon Coast by a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake would be 75′ to 100′ feet high. That triggered suggestions that when Cutler City residents arrive at the construction materials site, they should keep climbing the hill just to be sure they’re out of the tsunami’s clutches.
Everything appeared to have gone smoothly. North Lincoln Fire Rescue and city emergency management personnel declared the drill a success in that it showed many residents that they must be ready and know what to bring with them when they head to higher ground. They must also must realize that when they get to that higher ground it will take getting used to. North Lincoln Fire Rescue Captain Jim Kusz stressed again the importance of bringing food, water and warm clothes with them as part of a survival kit. Kusz said no one should expect to be rescued from any hilltop within the first few days, and even then they may receive nothing more than more food and water and be told to remain where they are. Lincoln City Emergency Management Coordinator Debra Smith noted that a locally generated tsunami could arrive on shore in as little as 15 to 20 minutes. She and Kusz asked for a show of hands of those who made it to the staging area in less than 15 minutes and roughly half the hands went up. Kusz said it points out that such an evacuation must be practiced over and over to bring down their times.
During a de-briefing at a nearby church, CERT members shared their observations and thoughts about how the evacuation drill went and everyone seemed to be pleased with it. They said everything went off without a hitch from the siren activation to the coordination of closing 101 down while residents headed to higher ground.
Lincoln County Schools Safety Officer Sue Graves reminded everyone that last year’s Japanese Tsunami killed many people who thought their evacuation destination would protect them. Many did not, simply because the tsunami proved to be much taller than earlier predicted. Graves said that the Cutler City evacuation spot should be no one’s final stop. Everyone will have to keep climbing up from there. She said “it’s a common issue up and down the Oregon Coast. Get to higher ground,” she said, “and then keep climbing.”
CERT members were also reminded of a massive five state “Shake Out” event coming up in the Fall. On October 18th, “Shake Out” will test earthquake preparedness and survival skills of residents of Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Utah. For the coastal states, add tsunami evacuation and survival skills to the list of competencies being tested. There is also an earthquake and tsunami preparedness fair at Newport City Hall this Saturday, from 3pm to 7pm. It’s free and will follow a “drop in” format so anyone can come and learn about surviving the “big one” and its resultant tsunami anytime during those four hours.
Recent earthquakes offshore of Japan and Chile and the Haiti earthquake remind us that we live in an unstable world and that everyone needs to be prepared for natural disasters. Scientific evidence suggests that there is a 10% probability that a Cascadia Subduction Zone event offshore Oregon will happen in the next 30 years.
To help raise awareness, Governor Kitzhaber has proclaimed March 2012 as Earthquake and Tsunami Awareness Month in Oregon.
You cannot prevent the next earthquake, tsunami, or other disaster but you can get ready. Even under the best of circumstances, medical aid and first responders may not be able to reach you for hours, or even days. In a disaster, local resources can be overwhelmed. Japan is the most technologically-advanced country in the world, but two weeks after the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, some areas were only just being reached. It is our responsibility ˆ as individuals, families, neighborhoods and communities ˆ to reduce risks beforehand, prepare for the critical period immediately after the earthquake or tsunami and to make sure that planning for disasters has the high priority it deserves.
Have you made sure that your family, friends, and neighbors will survive if an earthquake or tsunami strikes?
The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) have been working to reduce loss of life due to a tsunami in Oregon by accurately mapping the tsunami inundation hazard zone, increasing awareness of where the zone is and what the warning signs will be for the approaching tsunami. The program also enhances formal preparedness and evacuation planning with local authorities and stakeholders through its Tsunami Outreach Oregon campaign. Many events are planned for March! Please consider participating and learn how to be prepared!
Calendar of Earthquake and Tsunami Outreach Events on the Oregon Coast: Click here.
Included on the list you’ll see a ” Tsunami Road Show Readiness Fair” in Newport, March 17th, from3-7pm at Newort City Hall. The meeting agenda says “Learn how to prepare for earthquakes and tsunamis. Know what to do to survive. Talk with first responders and emergency officials. It’s sponsored by Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office (Emergency Management), Oregon Office of Emergency Management, Oregon Department of Geology and Minerals Industries, Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Weather Service and American Red Cross.
A Cutler City Tsunami Drill is scheduled for Cutler City (part of Lincoln City) for Wednesday, March 14, 9:30am to 11:30am at 6531 SW Galley, Cutler City at Pacific Baptist Church.
Another Tsunami Road Show will be held in Lincoln City Thursday, March 15th, 3-7pm, at North Lincoln Fire and Rescue at the Taft Station at 4520 SE Highway 101. Learn how to prepare for earthquakes and tsunamis, how to survive them and how to talk with first responders and emergency officials.
A Tsunami Road Show and Readiness Fair will be held in Yachats March 16th, 9am-non at the Yachats Presbyterian Church at 360 W 7th, Yachats.
Toledo Tsunami Road Show kicks of Friday, March 16th, 3-7pm at the Toledo Fire Station at 275 NE Burgess.
Depoe Bay Tsunami Road Show Readiness Fair, Saturday, March 17, Gleneden Beach Fire Station, 6445 Gleneden Beach Loop Road, Gleneden Beach.
The Depoe Bay City Council is expected to buy new tsunami warning sirens by the end of January, making it less than a year since the Japanese tsunami devastated the east coast of Honshu Island, Japan, and thrashed a nuclear power plant there.
City Recorder Pury Murray says a specially appointed tsunami warning siren committee, made up of planning commissioners and city council members, are in the process of mulling over proposals from five different companies, complete with assessments on how many sirens it would take to cover the town. The criteria for loudness requires that anyone in Depoe Bay would be able to hear a male or female voice singing The Star Spangled Banner.
Murray says a presentation of finalists to the city council is scheduled for Tuesday, January 3rd at city hall, then a final selection by the city council at their January 17th meeting. Both meetings start at 7pm.
Depoe Bay City Councilors decided this week it would be a good idea to apply for a $400,000 grant from ODOT to put in sidewalks from the bridge south to Shell, and then further the sidewalk down hill to the city park on the west side of the highway. If the city is awarded the grant, its urban renewal agency would have to kick in roughly $42,000.
So, the council awaits the decision from ODOT whether they get the money.
And, the city council this week was watching a group of tsunami siren techies march around town, looking at that hill and that building, that open area and this harbor, trying to figure out where tsunami sirens ought to be installed and how loud they should be. The council expects to hear back from the techies with some ideas of what kind of tsunami sirens Depoe Bay actually needs and at what cost.
Tsunami drill along with Newport Fire and Police and CERT
Initial reports from Safe Haven Hill, a designated Tsunami Evacuation Site, indicate that over 200 people from the Hatfield Marine Science Center and from both NOAA facilities made the trek from their work sites to the hill. Safe Haven Hill is located immediately west of the south end of the Yaquina Bay Bridge. Reports say that all 200 managed to “hoof it” to the hill and climb it. However, it was also reported that a KEZI TV (Eugene) news reporter was groggy on her feet near the end of the trek and received some minor medical attention. She told onlookers that she hadn’t eaten anything today which may have affected the way she felt.
Anyone with photos are invited to share them with the community by emailing them to: Dave@NewsLincolnCounty.com
Newport is in the process of trying to acquire federal funds to prepare Safe Haven Hill to receive hundreds of people who would be expected to leave their businesses, work places and residences after an earthquake and climb the hill ahead of an impending tsunami. Today’s drill was the first official formally organized South Beach area drill other than one held on an informal basis earlier in the year.
Hundreds of South Beach workers and residents are expected to be evacuating their buildings Wednesday afternoon at 2pm, and head for what’s been dubbed “Safe Haven Hill.” It’s the big hill just west of Highway 101 at the south end of the Yaquina Bay Bridge. It’s part of a large evacuation drill aimed at testing whether hundreds, if not thousands of people can get to higher ground ahead of a large tsunami that can be expected following a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake that could hit the coast at any time, according to geologists.
Highway 101 will be closed down from 2:20-2:30pm on Wednesday to allow those participating in the drill to cross 101 safely. A suggestion to simply cross under the bridge was discounted under the assumption that a major earthquake preceding the tsunami will cause the bridge to collapse, thereby posing a barrier for those headed for the safety of the hilltop.
Newport city officials have applied for state and/or federal grants to better prepare Safe Haven Hill to accomodate up to 4,000 people who would be expected to make it up the hill to the top and out of the tsunami’s reach. Plans are to level off the hilltop and provide easy vehicular and pedestrian access to shorten the amount of time people would need to climb it. The hilltop clearing and other accomodations are expected to occur in the near future. Planners say a thick ring of trees around the sides will remain to preserve the hill’s aesthetic appearance.