What to do during major natural disaster

By Don Kendall, Curry County Emergency Services and Dave Lacey, South Coast Tsunami Outreach March 26, 2011 05:00 am

In the coming months Curry County will be continuing its mission to become Tsunami Ready Tsunami Prepared with the collaboration of the cities of Port Orford, Gold Beach and Brookings, the National Weather Service, the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI), Oregon Emergency Management, Curry County Sheriff, American Red Cross, the schools, Civil Air Patrol, Ham radio operators, Curry County Emergency Services and many others to get the communities ready and prepared for a large earthquake and tsunami event.

In the future you will be presented with information on how you can prepare and what you should do in the event that we have a major natural disaster similar to and possibly worse than the distant tsunami that we just experienced on March 11.  After all, if you are tsunami ready then you are ready for anything. This is all about saving lives, so are we going to sink or swim?

Factoid 1 – The difference between a local and distant tsunami:

•A distant tsunami is like the one that hit us in 1964 and the event we just experienced on March 11, which was spawned from a large earthquake off of the coast of Japan and traveled all the way across the Pacific ocean. These are less deadly and produce smaller, more predictable tsunamis. Distant tsunamis are the ones that the sirens warn us of, and can take many hours to reach us. Long story short, we have time to get out of the inundation zone and, if we are educated and prepared, there should be no loss of life in Curry County.

•Much more powerful, destructive and deadly are the local tsunamis which are born from a Cascadia Subduction zone earthquake just 60 miles off of our coastline.  This fault line is all too similar to the Indian ocean fault that slipped in 2004 killing more than 200,000 people who generally have a strong connection with the ocean and its unforgiving forces.    With one of these events we will feel the ground shaking for more than 30 seconds and we might only have 5 to 10 minutes to get to high ground before a major tsunami hits the coast with up to 30 foot high seas and with the power of the whole ocean behind it.   Even worse, the waves could come for hours.