Beach goers this summer should pack not only their sunscreen and favorite novel, but also a tsunami evacuation map. For the first time, Oregon's entire coast has maps showing where to evacuate in the event of a tsunami. This information could save your life and those you love.
A catastrophic Cascadia earthquake and tsunami is a matter of when, not if. But our state is now more tsunami-ready than before. The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) has completed its work under a federal grant to create a new generation of tsunami maps and to educate vulnerable coastal communities how to prepare.
"We're the first generation in Oregon to fully understand the threat from earthquakes and tsunamis," said Governor John Kitzhaber. "This project has brought coastal communities together to become more prepared, thanks to federal funding, state expertise in mapping and outreach, and a local sense of responsibility. Coastal residents want to live with peace of mind and also let visitors know they're open for business and will know where to go if a tsunami strikes," Kitzhaber said.
Knowing where to go means understanding where high ground is, including the nearest tsunami assembly area. DOGAMI developed a total of 131 new maps, including 89 new tsunami inundation maps (TIMs) and 42 new evacuation maps; the latter are available free as pocket-sized brochures. The attached fact sheet explains where to get new maps and how they were developed.
Forty-two brochures have been published, covering Oregon's coastal population centers. Those living outside the map areas can get this information via OregonTsunami.org by clicking on "Evacuation Zone Map Viewer."
"These new maps and the State's outreach have definitely made our county safer," said Gordon McCraw, Tillamook County emergency manager. "Several areas conducted their very first tsunami evacuation drill, and some have had more drills since then. Residents and visitors practiced their evacuation routes to high ground, and folks really worked well together," McCraw said.
The program has also helped an additional 14 communities to become TsunamiReady, a designation by the National Weather Service recognizing cities and counties who strengthen their local tsunami plans and communications. Communities will have fewer fatalities and less property damage if they plan before a tsunami happens. (An additional seven entities, from fire districts to school districts, earned TsunamiReady Supporter status.)
"After Japan's devastating tsunami two years ago, we've been working hard to finish our maps and conduct outreach to coastal areas," said Vicki McConnell, State Geologist. "I want to thank NOAA for funding this work and our local partners - from fire chiefs to ham radio enthusiasts - for their leadership in getting our coast ready. We can't prevent a tsunami but we can prepare for one."
Maps and more information at www.OregonTsunami.org