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State officials say Oregonians should prepare for magnitude 8+ earthquake

Registerguard-When New Yorker magazine published a recent article about the possible consequences of a Cascadia earthquake and tsunami, state emergency preparedness officials saw an opportunity.

The article, titled “The Really Big One,” begins with a description of the impact of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. It then moves to the United States, comparing the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Pacific Northwest coast to the infamous San Andreas fault.

The writer’s conclusion is that people should be more concerned about the Cascadia fault line than the better-known San Andreas fault. A very large quake, and resulting tsunami, would leave the area unrecognizable, she says. Kenneth Murphy, who directs Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, says, “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”

The article has garnered a great deal of attention in Oregon and beyond, which makes this a good time for emergency officials to get their message out.

“We want Oregonians to be prepared, not scared,” Andrew Phelps, director of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, said in an online statement posted Friday. “What we do now to prepare will save lives and property during any disaster.”

Projects currently underway to prepare for an earthquake and tsunami include the Cascadia Playbook, a plan to coordinate state and other emergency organizations’ efforts for the first 14 days of a catastrophic event.

Oregon also is partnering with Washington state, Idaho and FEMA in a regional effort dubbed Cascadia Rising, which will culminate in a four-day exercise next June 7-10.

FEMA notes that scientific evidence indicates a magnitude 8 to 9 earthquake occurs along the Cascadia fault an average of once every 200 to 500 years. The last major earthquake and tsunami along the fault occurred more than 300 years ago, in 1700, FEMA officials said.


Saving, and sustaining, life after such a disaster “will hinge on the effective coordination and integration of governments at all levels — cities, counties, state agencies, federal officials, the military, tribal nations — as well as nongovernment organizations and the private sector,” according to FEMA.

The idea behind Cascadia Rising is “to train and test this whole-community approach to complex disaster operations together as a joint team,” FEMA said in a statement.

State emergency preparedness officials said individuals and families also need to be prepared for such a disaster.

She also urged all Oregonians to participate in the Great Oregon ShakeOut earthquake drill, slated for 10:15 a.m. on Oct. 15. It is part of the country’s largest earthquake drill, and last year more than 390,000 Oregonians participated, according to the Office of Emergency Management

2 Comments to State officials say Oregonians should prepare for magnitude 8+ earthquake

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