By Erin E. Cooper | Concordia/Vernon/Woodlawn Neighborhood Emergency Team
As Portland heats up for the summer and COV ID -19 restrictions loosen, lots of people will be heading to the beach for vacations and weekends. Although tsunamis – the giant waves caused by offshore earthquakes – are not a concern in Portland, we should be aware of what to do in case of disaster while we’re away from home.
There are two possible scenarios for a tsunami on the Oregon Coast. If the earthquake is far away, like Japan, there will be hours to evacuate and no damage to evacuation routes. In this scenario, you won’t feel the earthquake itself. You’ll be notified about the evacuation by local emergency responders, and they’ll provide instructions on where and how to evacuate.
If you feel the earth shaking, it’s potentially the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Drop, cover and hold on – this the recommendation no matter where you are if the earth is shaking.
If you’re on the coast, however, be ready to move as soon as the shaking stops. There will only be 15-25 minutes to get out of the tsunami zone, so start moving inland and uphill immediately without waiting for instructions or assistance from emergency responders.
Because of damage to roads and bridges, the most direct evacuation route might not be available, and cars may not be useable. On foot, follow the blue and white “Tsunami Evacuation Route” signs. If you visit the same area frequently, download the tsunami flooding maps and evacuation routes. The waters may surge and recede several times before the danger is over, so don’t return to low-lying areas until given the all-clear.
The odds of a tsunami happening on your vacation are low and shouldn’t keep you from enjoying yourself, but it’s always good to know what to do in a disaster.
Erin E. Cooper is a marine biologist living in Woodlawn. She spends a lot of time thinking about disasters and has been a NET member for many years. Contact her at OceanListener@gmail. com.