Curry County motorists will soon see more tsunami evacuation signs along Highway 101 as part of a $354,241 grant from the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program.
More than 45 signs were erected along Highway 101 in the northern end of the Oregon Coast, and Curry County will receive about 100, said Jonathan Allan, the coastal geomorphologist for the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI).
“Thanks to these grant funds, the entire Oregon coast now has tsunami evacuation maps that are available as print evacuation brochures and through a web map,” Allan said. “Development of those maps was a crucial accomplishment in helping residents and visitors get to safety.'
DOGAMI and the Oregon Emergency Management applied for the grant through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with funds aimed at increasing the resilience of coastal communities in the face of an earthquake and its subsequent tsunami.
The coasts of Northern California, Oregon, Washington and Southern Canada are parallel to the Cascadia Fault, which hasn’t significantly moved in 317 years. When it does, the stress built up in those centuries will likely release a quake that will devastate ports, cities, and their infrastructures and take years to repair.
The 2-foot by 3-foot signs will read Entering/Leaving Tsunami Hazard Zone; the south end of Oregon will receive more signage because it has more hills, Allan said.
Additionally another 100 “You Are Here” signs that depict where to go in case of a tsunami will be installed in the southern half of the state, typically in places where people congregate.
“It’s important to boost peoples’ awareness of the extent of the inundation zone and where they need to go to find safety,” Allan said. “Some communities (safety is) up above 101, other areas these signs are just a reference point, a form of outreach (and reminders) as you travel up and down the coast.”
The grant will also fund Tsunami Safe, a program providing the hospitality industry with training and tools to increase the awareness of staff and visitors, the OregonTsunami.org" class="auto" target="_blank">class="s1">OregonTsunami.org website and a coastal symposium in 2018, among other items for the northern end of the state.
Funding might soon be available for communities that want to install “blue lines,” thick blue lines painted on roadways that indicate people are in an area safe from tsunamis. Even though no one knows when they’ll ever be used, they also serve as a reminder that Oregon coastal residents live on shaky ground.
Oregon has received $4.65 million in National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program grants to help Oregonians better understand and prepare for tsunamis.
The education is ongoing, too.
“We look forward to continuing to improve our tsunami evacuation routes on the coast,” said Althea Rizzo, OEM Geologic Hazards Program coordinator. “Visitors to the Oregon coast should take some time and practice walking the routes. We want our guests to be safe during emergencies.”