CAROL McALICE CURRIE STATESMAN JOURNAL
There was a time when the most well-known fault line in the United States was the San Andreas. // Made infamous by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and countless B movies, the San Andreas runs through California from around Eureka south to the Mexican border and has been studied exhaustively. // It has a bronze plaque identifying it in Southern California, and there’s even a published field guide designed to let to tourists take one of 12 easy day trips to see and touch it. // At its limit, however, it’s thought the San Andreas Fault’s worst impact could be an 8.2 magnitude earthquake. // But here, along about 600 miles of Oregon, Northern California, Washington and Southern British Columbian coastline, there is a much more villainous fault, and few know it by name. // But they should. // It’s called the Cascadia Subduction Zone, and it has the potential to cause considerably more damage and loss of life than the San Andreas Fault. By some scientific accounts, the next full rupture of the Cascadia Subduction Zone will be the worst natural disaster to hit North America. It has the potential for a magniSee PREPARED, 5A
ABOUT THE THINK BIG PROJECT If you were cut off today from your kitchen because your house moved off of its foundation and you had no gas or electricity, or you couldn’t drive to your nearest market or fast-food restaurant because surrounding roadways had buckled and collapsed, do you have enough food and water to survive 72 hours? A week? Two weeks? Would you be able to help an infirm neighbor? Today, the Statesman Journal launches a 12-month series of stories to help residents become better prepared for any disaster. It’s also offering a unique guide to building an earthquake preparedness kit. Since many people questioned after an earthquake about why they weren’t prepared cite the expense of building a kit, we are offering a 24-week guide to building one. We will run the guide every two weeks in an effort to coincide with bimonthly paydays. Each time, residents will be advised what items to add to their kits. At the end of the 24 weeks, the kit should contain enough food, water and First Aid supplies to last two weeks. Instructions for outfitting an entire kit at one time can also be found online at StatesmanJournal.com.
INSIDE Kit No. 1: The first installment of a 24-week guide to building an emergency kit /4A Rapid Response: Are you preparing for a major quake? /7D
ON STATESMANJOURNAL.COM All 24 weeks: Find the complete guide to building your emergency kit Take the survey: How prepared are you for a disaster?
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tude 9 or higher quake and an accompanying seismic wave or tsunami of epic proportions. In other words, if the state to the south wants to go a few rounds for bragging rights to a fault line, California should know the Pacific Northwest would, unfortunately, win. So why do so few know about it? It could be because it only came to be more fully understood a little more than three decades ago, and humans can’t reach out and see or touch the fault line because most of it is underwater. Doug Gibbons, a research scien-
tist assistant at the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network at the University of Washington in Seattle, said the San Andreas is also more infamous because it has had three or four major seismic events during the past 100 years. Evelyn Roeloffs, a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey office in Vancouver, Washington, said there is ample geologic evidence from the last Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake more than 300 years ago to conclude that if such a quake happened today, “it would overwhelm local emergency providers.” She agrees with emergency management authorities who say the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake is survivable for many MidValley residents, but it will inexora-
bly alter the landscape of the state. “An earthquake as large as a magnitude 9 Cascadia Subduction Zone quake will produce a shaking that will likely last three to five minutes,” Roeloffs said. “It will be much longer than any earthquake we’ve experienced historically in Washington and Oregon. We have lots of buildings and structures constructed before we were aware of the potential of CSZ quakes, and even though these might have survived smaller earthquakes, the longer the shaking, the more likely it will damage these older structures.” So calling it catastrophic is not exaggerating. Roeloffs said the tsunami that will accompany a CSZ earthquake will not crest the Coast Range, so Mid-Valley residents can relax in
the knowledge that they won’t be inundated. She said, however, that the tsunami will have a direct impact on coastal communities, and because many inland families travel over to the coast regularly, they should have an evacuation plan committed to memory or at least taking up space in a glove box because there will be startling changes in elevation along the coastline. “Some areas will rise several feet and some will go down several feet,” Roeloffs said. “Permanently, or at least until the next subduction zone event.” All of these changes to the western Oregon landscape are why the number of earthquake deniers among us worries emergency manSee PREPARED, Page 5A
HOW TO BUILD A PREPAREDNESS KIT
The first items that should be put into a kit for week one of preparation are one gallon of water per person, a jar of peanut butter, permanent marker, can opener, can of meat, and one large can of juice per person. This is the start of a two week kit for two people.
CAROL MCALICE CURRIE
Personal preparedness will become critically important in the event of a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake, which could have a magnitude of 9.0 or greater. The landscape as we know it could change dramatically, and possibly permanently. But officials with the city of Salem, with Marion and Polk counties and the state want residents to be prepared, not scared. They want Oregonians to also know that even a 9.1 or 9.2 is very survivable here in the Mid-Valley. But an earthquake and tsunami hitting Oregon will likely overwhelm local law enforcement, fire and emergency responders and medical personnel and facilities. So the uninjured or residents with minor injuries will likely have to depend on themselves or their neighbors until help can arrive. Which is why the Statesman Journal, the American Red Cross Northwest Oregon Chapter and other members of the Mid-Willamette Emergency Communications Collaborative want residents to be personally prepared. Emergency managers for the state, city and lo-
cal counties recommend having a two-week emergency preparedness kit at home and a 72hour “get-home” kit for one’s car or office. But community partners know putting together a kit for 14 days can be expensive, so the Statesman, with the help of the Red Cross, has created a 24-week calendar for assembling a kit. It begins today and will run every other week, ostensibly tied to two paydays per month. This will enable Oregonians to assemble a two-week kit of emergency supplies in small steps over a matter of months instead of a weekend. The goal is to increase Mid-Valley residents’ preparedness from a current 8 percent to 18 to 20 percent. To begin: The kit should be contained in a large garbage bin on wheels with a tightfitting lid. The city’s emergency manager Roger Stevenson recommends storing it in a garage or storage area that is easily accessible. Plastic bins with snug lids can also be used, but might not be as easy to move. Since the kit is being built over time, not all of the water, for instance, has to be added in week one.
THE FIRST ITEMS IN THE KIT SHOULD BE: * 1 gallon of water per person * 1 large can of fruit juice * 1 can of meat such as Spam, tuna or Underwood Chicken Spread * 1 large jar of peanut butter * 1 hand-operated can opener (even if all can have pull tabs) * 1 permanent marking pen such as a Sharpie. For households with babies or pets, add one package of diapers, baby food and pet food. Date all perishable food with the marker. Next kit addition to run on Friday, April 29
SUNDAY, APRIL 17, 2016
MOLLY J. SMITH/STATESMAN JOURNAL
Adam Phelps, Director for the state Office of Emergency Management, talks to Governor Kate Brown and First Gentleman Dan Little at Mahonia Hall about the first week’s supplies to add to their personal preparedness kit for the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.
WATCH THE GOVERNOR PREPARE ONLINE
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To watch Gov. Kate Brown prepare for an emergency, go to StatesmanJournal.com
Behind the scenes Ed Flick, emergency manager for Marion County, said roads may be damaged and out of commission for a minimum of three to six weeks. The government will be working to repair roads to allow travel and the delivery of supplies, inspect bridges and deal with a 9-1-1 system that will be overwhelmed. Roger Stevenson, emergency response manager for the city of Salem, said electricity will be likely be disrupted for weeks and if not, overwhelmed quickly. ATMs and credit cards will not work without power, so cash will become the only way of paying for items. “You’ll probably have the charge that is on your cellphone at the time of the quake; maybe 12 hours, and that’s if the cellphone towers are still working,” Stevenson said. It will be a new normal. So today, the Salem Statesman Journal, part of the USA Today Network, is launching a public-service journalism project to make Cascadia Subduction Zone a part of the vernacular here in the Mid-Valley. It will be an uphill hike, which is why local emergency response officials have been planning and organizing state, county and local responses for months as the rest of us have been sleeping through the night in ignorant bliss. The newspaper is joining with emergency response officials and others from the Salem-Keizer School District, Salem Health (hospital), the Willamette Chapter of the American Red Cross, the city of Salem, Marion County, Polk County, CCTV, KMUZ, Radio Movimiento, NW Natural (gas utility), SEDCOR (economic development group) and others. The goal of the collaboration is to help the public become “prepared not scared,” to quote Andrew Phelps, director of Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management with the Department of the Military. “There is no harm to being prepared,” Phelps said. If the big one doesn’t happen in a resident’s lifetime, the OEM reasons, prepared residents will still be better off in the event of flooding, power outages and other wind or ice and snow storms.
Growing preparedness Stevenson estimates about 8 percent of the population of the MidValley has an earthquake preparedness kit. Of those asked, most say they’ll rely on camping supplies in their RVs or packed away with their tents. The Federal Emergency Preparedness Administration’s office of Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) estimates that of those who say they have a kit, more than 50 percent only have some water and canned foods, and it’s in their homes, not in an actual kit in an easily movable but sealed container in their garage. Far fewer keep the kit restocked and rotate out food and water to avoid it spoiling. FEMA officials said a survey also
GET CONNECTED Sign up for the Salem Community Alert System at www.cityofsalem.net/ SalemAlert
Cracked and buckled roads are common after an earthquake, which is one reason people need an emergency kit in their home.
revealed that the most motivated kit preparers have experienced a disaster, which might explain why many in the Pacific Northwest have a more cavalier approach to disaster preparedness. The city, county and state want to grow the number of prepared residents to at least 18 percent or higher. Starting today and continuing every other week for 24 weeks, the Statesman Journal, both online and in print, will run a story helping residents outfit a two-week disaster preparedness kit.
Prepared on a budget A 24-week calendar was designed by the American Red Cross to help residents prepare before an emergency happens and without sinking their budgets. The Statesman, working with the Willamette Chapter of the Red Cross, has expanded the calendar in a few places and by a couple of weeks, to ensure that residents have time to save for some of the more expensive items that should be included. Obviously, the kit can be put together in less time. The Statesman Journal has the complete list posted online as of today at StatesmanJournal.com. But after several quakes in the Los Angeles area, interviewed residents said they did not have a kit because of its expense. Many said cost was too great to do it all at once. And with Flick saying there are vulnerable populations identified by the Centers for Disease and Control that must also be considered to prevent them from becoming casualty populations in a disaster, a gradual preparation seemed like a logical
choice. Vulnerable populations include: the elderly, isolated residents, people with medical issues and disabilities, people with language or literacy issues and people with an economic disadvantage. “We love the idea of spreading it out,” Flick said. “It really helps us with our goal of making sure all populations can be reached and have a chance to prepare to help themselves. We don’t want to leave anyone out of this conversation.” The Statesman and members of the Mid-Willamette Emergency Communications Collaborative will continue kit preparation steps every other week, ostensibly to dovetail with two paydays per month, and the series will last for 11 months or more.
Getting started To start, residents are encouraged to purchase at least one or more 32-gallon or larger wheeled trash cans with tight-fitting or locking lids if affordable, so that it can be sealed tightly to protect items and store them in a garage or another easy-to-access space. Some items such as sturdy boots and a flashlight are needed, but will require separate storage. Each month, the paper will publish an additional story about earthquake readiness including how to prepare one’s home; how to assemble a 72-hour “get-home” kit for a car or office drawer; how to develop and execute a family plan, how to make preparations for managing pets during a disaster, how to send kids to a Red Cross sanctioned preparedness camp, and how to handle
financial and insurance papers among others. There will also be stories about ways the state and its lawmakers are acting to help residents take care of themselves in an earthquake, and any Legislative action that might be necessary. The week of April 4, for instance, Senate President Peter Courtney discussed the seismic safety of Oregon schools as well as grants being given annually to schools to help them protect students. Should the quake hit during a school day, Salem-Keizer School District could be responsible for sheltering in place about 40,000 students. The Legislature might also be called on by its constituents to find a fix for including a prescription drug supply in individuals’ earthquake preparedness kits. Many mail-order pharmacies don’t permit patients to order an extra supply of their daily medicines, and this could be problematic for some. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, and her husband, Dan Little, the first gentleman, started preparing a kit for the governor’s official residence, Mahonia Hall in Salem, last week. As Gov. Brown discussed items to be included in Week No. 1 with Andrew Phelps, the director of Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management, she joked about growing up with Spam as she tucked in a can along with water, juice and peanut butter. But she agreed earthquake preparedness was no laughing matter. “This is a very important lesson for us, and all Oregonians will be well served being prepared to help themselves and their neighbors in any disaster,” Brown said. In addition to the kit-assembly details being made available at StatesmanJournal.com, the instructions will also be posted on social media sites such as Facebook as well. It is hoped that by the time the series concludes, residents will be able to take care of themselves for at least two weeks in the event of a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake or some other natural or man-made disaster. Officials throughout the state say they don’t want to foster fear, and the encouragement to be prepared should not be construed as shaming. They know some individuals will not change their minds and prepare, nor will they even think about changing in the future. Other residents might not be prepared to take action now, but they might consider it in the future. So resources will be directed to the resident who is considering changing his or her behavior in the future or has made an attempt to fill a kit in the past but has not finished or maintained it.
SUNDAY, APRIL 17, 2016
LOCAL EFFORT DESIGNED TO HELP MID-VALLEY CAROL McALICE CURRIE STATESMAN JOURNAL
Anyone living in Oregon who once lived in California and thought they’d moved away from the center of earthquakes in North America, might want to think again. Like it or not, you still live in earthquake country. And not just any temblor territory, but in an area that’s expected to experience a subduction zone earthquake magnitude 9 or greater sometime in the future. When and where it will happen along the 600-mile Cascadia Subduction Zone is hotly debated. A megathrust earthquake, or one ranging in size from an 8.0 to a 9.0, according to the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, last occurred along the coasts of Northern California, Oregon, Washington and southern end of British Columbia in early 1700. The OEM, in a guidebook on earthquakes, reports there is typically an average of 300 to 600 years between events, which suggests there’s a 10 to 14 percent chance of a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake in the next 50 years. For some, that’s enough to dismiss the idea outright. Others believe they don’t have to prepare because it won’t occur in their lifetimes. But state, city and county officials have been working copiously behind the scenes to plan for such a disaster, and they want to encourage personal preparedness because a seismic event of this proportion will change the Northwest’s landscape permanently. Dr. Chris Goldfinger, director of the Active Tectonics and Seafloor Mapping Laboratory in the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science at Oregon State University, told the Statesman Journal that there are no global models for prediction of which subduction zones are capable of generating M9 earthquakes. Working abroad on the startup of a new project in the Antilles subduction zone with a group of French group of scientists, Goldfinger said previously there were some longheld models, mostly based on short and incomplete data sets, that predicted no magnitude 9 quakes for northwest Japan or Sumatra sub-
AP FILE PHOTO
A woman grieves in Onagawa, Japan, in March 2011, after a massive magnitude 8.9 earthquake and resulting tsunami devastated the region. The quake was caused by slippage on a nearby subduction zone, much like the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Pacific Northwest coastline.
duction zones. “Obviously, these were wrong,” Goldfinger said, referring to the 2004 Sumatra, Indonesia M9.1 to 9.3 earthquake and the 2011 northeast Japan Tohoku earthquake that registered a magnitude of 9.0. “We have known for a long time about Cascadia’s M9s, but Tohoku was a surprise.” All of which suggests it might be a good idea to plan for a Cascadia Subduction Zone quake. The colossal nature of it will inexorably alter the landscape of the cities and communities along its path, and economically alter the Pacific Northwest. At a recent Strategic Economic Development Corporation meeting, for instance, community partners stood up to talk about plans businesses, utilities, schools and others have for when the quake hits. The Oregon Department of Transportation talked about the $5.1 billion needed to retrofit more than 1,100 bridges and almost immeasurable amounts of roadway in the
state. If the quake hits, for instance, ODOT estimates it would cost $351 billion to repair bridges and roadway in the state. Allan Pollock, Salem-Keizer Transit’s general manager, confirmed that its fleet relies on both natural gas and diesel fuel, so it would not be entirely dependent on fuel should supplies be cut off either by damaged roadways or refinery shutdowns in Washington state. He said one of the district’s roles in a disaster would be to move groups of emergency responders, and that plans are in place to make this happen. The Salem-Keizer School District last fall hired its own emergency manager, Bob Maca. He talked about what the schools are doing to retrofit buildings to ensure student safety, and also how its planning for what to do with about 40,000 students should the quake happen during school hours and the children might have to be sheltered in place. Abisha Dunivan, director of oper-
ations for Marion-Polk Food Share, said the food bank was asked last year what to expect from it. “We’re going to move food,” Dunivan said. While the nonprofit, which is not a food pantry but a warehouse for distribution to other food-supply partners, didn’t have a plan last year, Dunivan said it now has one that includes tapping its more than 4,000 volunteers to get the food to the two counties. “We might have some limitations, but we have a plan and we will figure out how to support each other,” Dunivan said. The city has an aging water infrastructure to contend with, but it is ready to enhance, repair and replace as funds are available. Salem Fire Chief Mike Niblock assures residents that with funds from the last bond measure, all fire stations have been seismically retrofitted to withstand a “sizable” earthquake and be “fairly functional.” “The doors will work, there are generators, fuel for a week, water and most could be usable as a shelter if necessary,” Niblock said. “We have plans in place for each station, and we practice drills on them frequently. We can activate closed stations such as No. 11 in West Salem as well, and we will get crews and apparatus out of the stations so that we can respond.” Niblock said in the event of a disaster, crews will be out responding, surveying and working to get critical infrastructures, important buildings, back up and running. Since much of the work is done out of the public eye, residents aren’t reminded of the quake regularly. But having a prepared populace is paramount for state, city and county officials. “We can’t emphasize personal preparedness enough,” said Mike Gotterba, Salem’s director of public works. “A major earthquake is going to overwhelm local law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical personnel and resources,” said Roger Stevenson, Salem’s director of emergency services. “You need to rely on yourself and your neighbors.” firstname.lastname@example.org; 503-399-6746 or follow on Twitter at @CATMCurrie