Chicken Little: The Ground Will Rumble

Marshfield, Oregon (now Coos Bay) circa 1920

Marshfield, Oregon (now Coos Bay) circa 1920 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, most of my family is from Coos County and boy do they find me annoying. I swear I can start a conversation about how so and so’s son is doing on Varsity basketball and quickly steer the conversation to “Did you know the Tsunami wave will reach all the way to Mingus Park and Blossom Gulch?” I know they get off the phone with me, shake their head, and say “she is at it again.” I can’t help it. This earthquake is looming in the distance and no one has a clue when it will strike. This scares me to death.

I have so many family members down in Coos Bay, let alone worrying about my own kids here in Portland, and I feel this topic is worth discussing. I especially find it disturbing that scientists are saying that the quakes that are occurring offshore in the 5.0-6.0 range are a sign of a megathrust quake in the future — where it might be sooner rather than later. I used to think that these small quakes were a good thing because it is releasing energy by taking pressure off of the fault. Not so according to one study issued by the State of Oregon. That’s unfortunately a myth.

So, I continue to plague my family gatherings with, “so do you have a gallon of water per person, per day for over a week…. and how are you with supplies.” (Cue their eye roll) I only do this because I care so deeply about their safety and I need to focus on my own family and I want the peace of mind knowing that my family and friends are safe.

My advice to all in the Northwest. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. (a gallon of water, per person, per day for over a week… and don’t forget about your pets, they need water too)

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A Prediction of 10,000 deaths in the Northwest

I read a study recently discussed on KGW which stated scientists estimate 10,000 people in the Northwest will perish from this megaquake…. this gives me chills. I’m not an overly religious person but I actually catch myself saying a little prayer that my children are not among the casualties. I really, really pray they always remain safe and this earthquake doesn’t occur in their (very long) lifetime.

Unfortunately, I can see this large body count happening after growing up along the coast. The news of the earthquake is a slap in the face and many live in denial. I feel there was almost a false sense of security that “we live God’s country” – we don’t have tornadoes (BTW, I read that one did touchdown in Coos County about 30 plus years ago), no hurricanes (OK, we will not count the Columbus Day storm, where winds at Cape Blanco were well over 145 mph), no black widow spiders (we have the Hobo Spider and they are nasty little suckers), but all in all…. it’s a pretty tame environment or at least so I thought.

Many residents may think that they can muscle through this event, which they may and I hope they do, but without knowing where is safe and where landslides

English: Damage from the Columbus Day Storm of...

English: Damage from the Columbus Day Storm of 1962 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

may occur, how can you truly be safe?

I implore anyone living along the coasts of Washington and Oregon… know the path of a tsunami whether it’s from a local earthquake or a distant one. (The paths may vary depending on the location of the seismic activity) It will surprise you.

Have a plan and execute it flawlessly.

Evacuation Maps:

Oregon

http://www.oregongeology.com/sub/earthquakes/coastal/Tsubrochures.htm

Washington

Click to access ger_tsunami_inundation_maps.pdf

KGW Article:

http://www.kgw.com/home/Report-makes-chilling-forecast-on-NW-quake-198444741.html

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The Turkish Earthquakes

English: Map showing the epicentre of the 1999...

English: Map showing the epicentre of the 1999 İzmit earthquake. Türkçe: 1999 Gölcük Depremi merkezi ve etki alanı (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I spent a lot of time in Turkey for personal reasons and I got to know the country and I met many people along the way. For one thing, it’s a gorgeous country and they have amazing food, however, they are plagued with an active fault that produced two very serious earthquakes that toppled many buildings where many lives were lost. Granted many of those who perished were in buildings with un-reinforced masonry, however, it still doesn’t discount the fact that many people died.

I have heard  push back on preparations in the Northwest after referencing these incredible death tolls. In fact, some Americans think the Turkish deaths were a result of older building codes — Many Turkish buildings were older and the US building standards are much better.

Not so fast… not really… not always.

I know in Portland that geologists worry about roughly 1,600 structures in the downtown area. These are older brick buildings, like the ones in parts of Turkey, that couldn’t handle significant shaking. The earthquake in 1999 was only a 7.6… in the Northwest we are talking about a 9.0+.  That is exponentially worse than the Turkish quakes.

These brick buildings in the Northwest will be no match for megaquake. I know the going theory is duck and cover, however, in my personal (unprofessional opinion) if you are in an un-reinforced brick building…. cover your head and run… run for your life.

I knew of three people in the Gölcük earthquake (pronounced Gul-juck) — one person was on the 6th floor of his building and it collapsed as he slept. Amazingly enough he rode the collapsing debris down, dusted himself off and began searching for neighbors in the rubble. I had another friend who was on the second floor of her building, asleep in her bed, and the building collapsed on her. Her will to dig won out and in shock she dusted herself off and staggered down the street counting her blessings…. the last person I met was a survivor… a sole survivor… he lost 9 people in the earthquake. I was told he stood in line and the government issued him 9 death certificates. He lost his parents, siblings, a spouse, and two young nieces.

Anyone reading this, please take these warnings seriously and prepare. It may save your life.

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