earthquake preparedness

ShakeAlert

Smartphone users who opted in to a test of the West Coast earthquake early warning system got an early taste on Thursday of what is to come. Mobile phones from Seattle to Olympia blared with an alarm for imaginary incoming shaking. The earthquake warning system -- already operational in California -- will launch for the general public in Oregon on March 11 and statewide in Washington in May.

Wally Miller / Flickr

If you live at the foot of a dam – or downriver – you may wonder what could happen if an earthquake rumbled nearby. Dam managers say it’s something they’re constantly watching, but major shaking east of the Cascades shouldn’t cause too much damage.

“We are concerned (about earthquakes), but we’re not concerned from an overall public safety standpoint,” said Bill Christman, Chelan County PUD’s chief dam safety engineer. “The dams on the Columbia River are naturally constructed to resist a big volume of water through just their own weight.”

Dr. Lesley Ogden and Chris Lemar stand beside the backup generator at Lincoln City's new hospital, which is mounted on a shock-absorbing rack to protect against an earthquake.
Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

The state of Oregon is pushing the community hospitals along the Oregon Coast to improve their earthquake resilience. This comes after a state report predicted none of them would be able to sustain operations after the feared Big One -- a magnitude 9 offshore Cascadia earthquake and tsunami.

Hospitals in Washington state were called out too, in a separate report by that state's government. The challenge is inspiring some creative thinking about how these hospitals might secure extended emergency power and water.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

Multiple teams of earthquake researchers are looking in what may seem like an unlikely place to figure out how strongly the Pacific Northwest shook during great quakes in the past.

They're poking around the bottom of lakes in Western Washington and Oregon. It turns out lakes preserve a nifty earthquake record that can shed light on the next "Really Big One."

The USS Anchorage, top right, launched the two hovercraft from about three miles offshore.
Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

People visiting or living along the Pacific Northwest coast may be completely cut off after "The Big One" — the feared magnitude 9.0 Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. For that reason, the U.S. Navy has been scouting landing sites along the coast for disaster relief delivery by sea. The quake preparations ticked up a notch on Monday, with a practice delivery of supplies using two hulking Navy hovercraft.

Colin Murphey / Daily Astorian

A former Navy landing ship commissioned during World War II could come to the rescue when a big Cascadia earthquake hits someday. A group based in Astoria, Oregon, envisions a new role in disaster relief for the storied vessel Salvage Chief.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

A research project to model the effects from a Cascadia megaquake found higher risk of collapse for modern tall buildings than previously thought.

Kevin Galvin / FEMA News

The State of Washington has completed its first statewide inventory of buildings prone to crumble or collapse in an earthquake. The bottom line: There are an awful lot of unreinforced, old brick or stone buildings that could be dangerous  — a similar number to estimates in Oregon.

Schwede66 via Wikimedia Commons - tinyurl.com/ycfsul7z

Thousands of old brick, stone and concrete buildings in the Pacific Northwest could crumble in the next strong earthquake. To face that challenge, measures pending in the Oregon and Washington legislatures would set up grant programs to help owners of dangerous buildings make seismic safety upgrades.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

It's a sad fact of life that K-12 students must practice for calamities such as earthquakes, fires, lockdowns or active shooters. Now a few public schools in the Pacific Northwest are roping in parents and guardians to practice for the aftermath.

Robert Williams / WWU

One way to predict the risk of earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest is to look at how often they occurred in the past – and, for several groups of geologists, delving into the fault lines themselves.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

Horror tales from recent earthquakes overseas are moving people in Seattle, Portland and along the Pacific Northwest coast to give a crap about where to crap after a major earthquake.

It's not something we typically discuss in polite company, but disaster planners say that when water and sewage service fails, finding a place to poop is a big deal.

Liz Roll / FEMA News

After years of debate, the Portland City Council on Wednesday took a big step towards making the city’s old brick buildings more earthquake-safe.

Nancy Kroll

In an earthquake or wildfire or other disaster, you typically can’t bring your animals with you into a shelter. This is a reason why some people choose not to evacuate when they ought to.

Some Northwest localities have volunteer “Animals in Disaster” teams to handle pet rescue, preparedness and emergency sheltering tasks. Cannon Beach is the latest to establish one.

Schwede66 via Wikimedia Commons - tinyurl.com/ycfsul7z

Portland may become the first city in the Pacific Northwest to require all owners of old brick buildings to make earthquake safety upgrades. But being on the leading edge is not a comfortable place.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

One of the key elements of your emergency kit should be enough drinking water to be self-sufficient for days or weeks after a big earthquake. That task become much trickier when public water systems are wrecked and you are responsible for hordes of people in a community shelter.

Liz Roll / FEMA News

The state of Washington is allocating $200,000 to inventory how many old buildings statewide could collapse in an earthquake. That money is included in a budget Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed this week.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

When The Big One happens, emergency planners and geologists expect the vast majority of us will survive. But a magnitude 9 rupture on the Cascadia earthquake fault will likely cut electricity, running water and sewer for weeks—or even months afterwards.

Erin Burkett - USGS, Jeff Goertzen - Orange County Register

An earthquake early warning system under development for the West Coast gets a major boost in the new federal budget that President Donald Trump signed into law Friday.

DOGAMI Archives

No one can say when exactly the next Cascadia megaquake will strike other than there's a fair chance it'll happen in our lifetimes. A new study of likely earthquake impacts in the Greater Portland region finds the exact timing and season make a big difference when it comes to casualties and damage.

FEMA

Planned student walkouts Wednesday bring attention to reducing the threat of school shootings. One group of Northwest parents is pushing schools to prepare better for another kind of disaster, a major earthquake. 

The Big One, Serialized

Mar 1, 2018
Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Do you have two weeks of food, water and other essentials to survive after a catastrophic earthquake or other disaster? Most Pacific Northwesterners mean well but aren't prepared. In Portland, on the Washington Coast, in British Columbia and now in Bellingham, writers tackled The Big One in serial form to motivate people into action.

Robert A. Eplett / FEMA News - tinyurl.com/ya2fb5ws

Oregon and Washington officials have identified hundreds of bridges that still need to be replaced or retrofitted to withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake from the offshore Cascadia fault zone.

But the pace of highway reinforcements is picking up.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Shallow, active earthquake faults are being discovered all over Oregon and Washington state. Collectively, these may present a higher risk than the better known offshore Cascadia subduction zone.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

More people than ever—1.2 million in Washington state and more than 570,000 in Oregon—are registered to participate in the annual Great ShakeOut earthquake and tsunami drill Thursday morning.


Not coincidentally, a Washington state agency is using this week to highlight how the Evergreen State needs to play catch up with neighboring states on earthquake preparedness.

Liz Roll / FEMA News

Last week’s earthquake in Mexico provided another reminder about the risks of poorly reinforced buildings. According to government studies, there are literally thousands of older brick and concrete buildings in Oregon and Washington that could collapse in a strong earthquake.

Washington State House Republicans / Flickr - tinyurl.com/zlgo6qs

The threat of a nuclear attack, immigration enforcement and paying by the mile to drive are all on the agenda as Washington lawmakers hold meetings the week of September 11.

Andrea Booher / FEMA News Photo

Fewer than one in five homeowners in the West carry earthquake insurance, according to an insurance industry survey. That would set back our region's recovery if the Big One were to hit tomorrow.

Now both Oregon and Washington state are looking to California for a possible solution to get their numbers up.

Masahiko OHKUBO / Flickr - tinyurl.com/l6vwtfp

Vulnerability assessments by utilities and emergency planners along the U.S. West Coast suggest it could be weeks or a month or more before water service gets restored after a major earthquake - not to mention electricity, sewage treatment and fuel supply too. The social and economic disruption does not have to be that bad though, given adequate preparedness and investments in critical infrastructure as demonstrated in Japan.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Oregon lawmakers are expected to reveal details Monday of a proposed transportation funding package. The initial roll-out will almost certainly be a first draft. The final version, if approved, will reflect a dizzying mix of competing priorities for precious transportation dollars.

Pages