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.
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.
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.
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.
If “The Big One” shakes the Oregon Coast and generates a 100′ tsunami, those who live and work at South Beach are expected to head up the hill that sits near the south end of the Yaquina Bay Bridge. It’s been tentatively named “Safe Haven Hill.” There are plans to cut the trees and clear the land on the top to make room for the crowds of people who manage to get atop it before the Tsunami arrives. Those who are planning to clear the top promise that they’ll leave a thick ring of outside edge trees so it won’t look like something just ripped off the top of the hill.
City Councilor Dick Beemer, who has been spearheading the project, says no work will be done on hill until a geologic engineering study is completed to ascertain whether it can withstand a tsunami surge or is high enough or wide enough to be a predictably safe haven for those fleeing their homes, businesses and workplaces. It’s estimated that there will be barely 15 minutes between the earthquake and the arrival of the tsunami so survivors of the quake will have to be running fast and furiously to and up the hill in order to beat the tsunami.
The council learned that the Hatfield Marine Science Center has a tsunami drill set for October 5th that is said to involve Safe Haven Hill. A resident of the neighborhood, just to the west of the hill, asked the council to not forget them. She complained she’s heard about the effort to evacuate NOAA, HMSC, Rogue Ale and businesses but nothing about evacuating her and her neighbors to the west. She said they have no clear pathway to the hill, especially if they have to run or climb uphill in the dark. The council told her that they have not forgotten her neighbhorhood and that the plan being put together definitely includes them.
Councilor Beemer said there will be a lot more to report on the project very shortly.