The northwest has been abuzz since the New Yorker recently published a cautionary tale about the “Big One” looming off the shores of Oregon and Washington. The amazing 6,000 word article was terrifying and an affirmation of what I have learned about this fault line googling late at night over the last seven years.
I have been fascinated by the response in news groups throughout the northwest. I am pleased with some of the response from coastal communities who were initially living in denial when I began talking about this in 2008 – now most have taken steps to prepare for an earthquake. I love that, especially since most of my family is near the inundation zone on the southern Oregon coast.
Many of the “PNW Newbies,” those who have relocated to the Northwest just learned about our “dirty little secret” and some are paralyzed with fear. I feel bad for most of these northwest residents, many of whom are parents, and don’t know where to begin.
I am happy to see the New Yorker published a follow-up that clarifies some of the hyperbole originating from a FEMA director and it also adds tips for preparing for a 9.0 earthquake.
If you are looking for ways to prepare and where to start… baby steps. Don’t be overwhelmed by this – you need to start somewhere. Divide & conquer.
I will begin putting together lists and featuring what’s in our homemade “Grab & Go” kits.
Just start right now. Make lists. You can do this.
New Yorker follow up article:
I would like to applaud geologists for always looking to improve our reporting and forecasting for a 9.0 earthquake.
One thing to note, the state of Oregon re-forecast their tsunami maps after the Japanese earthquake. I assume they took into account how the water flowed in Japan and compared it to the topography along our coastline. For instance, before 2008 the map essentially said the people of Coos Bay would be affected along the beaches (which are a distance from the actual town) and the bay would possibly have a surge similar to the 11-foot tides in the winter months (with 11-foot tides in Coos Bay, the water will reach Highway 101 slightly but not much).
After 2011, the Japanese earthquake showed a more aggressive tsunami and US geologists realized this could happen along our coastline. So they reforecast. Now, a tsunami in Coos Bay can reach all the way out into Libby through the sloughs that feed from the bay. It seems crazy… I would have to drive 15 minutes to get to a beach from the area yet a tsunami will wind its way through various sloughs, tributaries and marshes overflowing into parts of some secluded inland areas. Following the geologist’s logic and looking at the land and understanding the area (my grandparents owned the large ranch in the Libby area where the tsunami inundation zone essentially “ends”) – it makes absolute sense. It’s marshy most of the year even during the summer months. This is conjecture on my part, but the land likely dropped from the 1700 earthquake making it a marsh similar to some parts of Anchorage after 1964. The terrain is similar in texture.
The same goes for a tsunami that might reach Coos Bay’s Blossom Gulch elementary school – which was illustrated in the state’s re-forecast after the Japanese quake. Again, it seems outlandish since you can’t even see water from the grade school but I appreciate the geologists taking into account what happened in Japan and forecasting how that would look along areas such as Coos Bay. If you live there and understand the lay of the land – it’s logical and makes sense. I assume it’s the same for other coastal communities.
Thank you to the many subject matter experts and researchers who are working to save lives.
This is a great story where this elementary school received a grant from the State of Oregon. I would love to see more schools receiving these grants so we can keep our kids safe.
Heiwa elementary school %u5E73%u548C%u5C0F%u5B66%u6821 _18 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964
A year ago today Prince William Sound in Alaska experienced an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.2. I had an opportunity to see the ghost forest, which is a direct result of the quake, where the tree roots sank and the salt water rose resulting in some trees dying and they are still frozen in time. (It’s fascinating, if you have a moment look it up)
My friend’s mom was also living in Anchorage while pregnant with her daughter at the time of the earthquake (which is the only reason I remember the year of the event) and she was told that her husband, who was in law enforcement, was thought to be killed by a hillside that that collapsed over a major roadway. The authorities told her pregnant mom that she was a widow since that highway was her husband’s last known location. Thankfully, my friend’s dad did make it home that night as he had narrowly missed the landslide. This is a constant reminder that life is very precious..