…Or at least think about the possibilities.
By Gregory Zupan
Hayhurst NET Co-leader
Portland neighborhoods are looking for volunteers to help prepare for the unexpected. Things happen, but being ready is best. Actually, proactively planned incident response can prevent a minor mishap becoming a tragedy. Not having a first aid kit can lead to an unnecessary medical crisis. Being without water can lead to a life threatening emergency. If you witnessed the May 18, 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption, you know what a disaster is like. Numerous parties were unprepared; one individual knowingly ended his life by disregarding the evacuation. As advised by Oregon Emergency Management, be ready for a potential multi-day period without access to water, power, gas, or community care. Would you be comfortable providing aid to neighbors?
A disaster level quake and tsunami, like the March 11, 2011 in Japan, is predicted to hit the west coast. Scientists have calculated that the Cascadia Subduction Zone quake on average occurs every 270 years, and the last one occurred 308 years ago. Earth samplings show tsunamis have been impacting the northwest coast through history. The probability of a magnitude 8 or higher quake is as high as 75 percent in the next 50 years. When this will happen is unknown, but we do know that when it happens the damage will be significant. Is Portland Oregon ready for it? Not even close. Many buildings need retrofitting and will likely collapse. When the Cascadia strikes, it could last 9 minutes at a 9.0 magnitude. A quake like this is expected to have catastrophic results. The good news is a tsunami will not hit Portland directly.
(The image shows a computer simulation of the 1700 Cascadia earthquake tsunami after 10 hours provided by the U.S. Geological Survey)
Quake Recovery in Japan
Some would say that Japan was ready for the March 11th quake. The fear of history repeating itself led to many years of investment in risk mitigation, i.e. preparedness community education, architectural improvements, wave reduction barriers, etc. A 9.0 Richter scale quake was survivable, although the tsunami’s impact greatly exceeded expectations. A CNN.com online article published Feb 13, 2015 confirmed the final death-toll at 15,890. Japan estimates complete recovery will take five years.
How can emergency management help mitigate the impact of a disaster?
The tragic events of March 11th are a reminder that a disaster can strike anywhere with little to no warning, from natural disasters to city-wide water shut-off and power grid outages. Portlanders should take action now to increase their preparedness. You can build an emergency kit, make a family plan and become better prepared for any type of disaster. Have a meeting with family to review your contact list. Further information is also available by phone at 1-800-BE-READY or visit redcross.org/prepare. If you’d like help, American Red Cross provides kits that can make preparation easy. Let’s get our homes stocked up. American Red Cross’ ready-made emergency supply kits are available for all sized families.
Residents of the Portland metro area are encouraged to visit publicalerts.org/signup/ to receive emergency alerts and be aware of major service disruptions, road closures, transit schedules and other emergency information. The Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) web site portlandoregon.gov/pbem/ is a good source of information about how to prepare within the Portland area.
Take Steps to Help Within the Hayhurst Community
If you’d like to help others, you can do even more. Get to know your neighbors through professional fire department training to become part of a Portland Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET). The PBEM is funding Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training to help build an active first responder community. If you’re able to commit time for community response and want to be trained as a fire department first responder, sign up for CERT training and Hayhurst Portland NET via firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be sure to including registration name(s) and contact information. Additional NET information can be found at portlandoregon.gov/pbem/31667.
Installing an app for you smartphone called Nextdoor would be a good tool to know what is happening locally and get to know your neighbors. You can find detailed information, provided by the Oregon Emergency Management, by reading Shaky Ground Magazine at: http://www.oregon.gov/OMD/OEM/plans_train/earthquake/shakygroundmagazine_final.pdf
The Hayhurst NET team is ready to grow and we look forward to meeting you, so we can be stronger in facing an “eventuality” when it occurs.