The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Topics in this category pertain to planning. Discussions include how to prepare yourself, your family and your community for catastrophes and what you plan to do when they hit you.

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The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by the_alias » Mon Jul 13, 2015 3:38 pm

Fascinating article in the New Yorker http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/ ... ly-big-one

Sensational quote to whet appetites :wink:
By the time the shaking has ceased and the tsunami has receded, the region will be unrecognizable. Kenneth Murphy, who directs FEMA’s Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, says, “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”
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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by Myana » Mon Jul 13, 2015 5:13 pm

A very good piece.

I don't think the tsunami situation is quite as dire as the article makes it sound. The writer said that if Cascadia hit during summer, thousands of tourists would have no idea where to go. If so, they bear part of the blame. The only part of earthquake prep that Oregon's done well is tsunami markers. Evacuation route signs are everywhere on the coast. They tell you, at a glance, which roads go high and which ones peter out in the lowlands. In many parts of the coast, the Coastal Range is immediately at hand and you can get above 100 feet within a minute. Not saying it's safe, but if you pay attention to those signs (and I do, being a frequent tourist at the coast), you should have an idea where to go.

The really scary part to me is structural integrity. The article mentions that only 2 of Portland's bridges are expected to survive a Cascadia quake. What it didn't say is that one of those bridges goes out to a tiny island -- it doesn't actually cross the river. And the other isn't completely built yet. The new Sellwood Bridge is the only trans-river bridge likely to survive.

Cascadia is the big bugbear of my preparations. If it hits during the day, my husband and I expect to spend up to three months apart (because we're on opposite sides of the Willamette River). Our local CERT is trying to organize boaters who'll be willing to ferry people across after a Cascadia quake, but it would only be a drop in the bucket.

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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by ineffableone » Mon Jul 13, 2015 10:05 pm

The article seems more oriented to Oregon, but still enough for folks like me up North of Seattle.

The Mt Saint Helen's eruption in the 80's is what got me started down the prepping path. Learning how unprepared the PNW was for the inevitable big quake. I realized even at a young age that I would have to make sure I was ready and not expect outside help.

Even though decades have past since Mt Saint Helens, little has been done to fix the problems with PNW quake vulnerable infrastructure. When the quake goes it will be a quite epic disaster. I hope to have moved over to Eastern WA before it hits, but if not I am at least quite a bit more prepared than most. As well as mentally aware of the potential a lot more than most others.
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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by Kilo147 » Mon Jul 13, 2015 11:31 pm

On the Washington coast, the tsunami would be higher than any evacuation zones. There is no escape. There would be no survivors.

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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by Maast » Tue Jul 14, 2015 8:02 am

Excellent article, since I live in the affected region this really caught my eye:

"...estimates that in the I-5 corridor it will take between one and three months after the earthquake to restore electricity, a month to a year to restore drinking water and sewer service, six months to a year to restore major highways, and eighteen months to restore health-care facilities.
On the coast, those numbers go up. Whoever chooses or has no choice but to stay there will spend three to six months without electricity, one to three years without drinking water and sewage systems, and three or more years without hospitals. Those estimates do not apply to the tsunami-inundation zone, which will remain all but uninhabitable for years."

Now I have good timeframes for how long my preps have to last. My house was built in 2002, so it was built to some earthquake codes and is bolted to the foundation, but a lot of my neighbors have much older homes.

I'm fairly deep inside the sound and a couple hundred feet high so the tsunami won't get us, but the Narrows bridges (main access to the other side of the sound) likely will not survive, which will make travel almost impossible since the other roads out of the peninsula go through the inundation zone.
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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by Myana » Tue Jul 14, 2015 8:52 am

What kills me is how much the people in my area loathe the idea of preparing for Cascadia.

As Japan shows, there are a lot of precautions governments can take -- they just cost money. And in my area (Oregon, a few miles east of the I-5 'total wipe' line), we're doing nothing. My town's drinking water is piped in under the Willamette. If Cascadia hit, those pipes would be completely destroyed. I don't know if the town would even bother rebuilding them, it would take so long.

Recently we made a deal with a neighboring town. Part of that was permission to use their water in an emergency, which will dramatically cut the time we go without water after an earthquake (not even Cascadia; 'an' earthquake -- those pipes are ancient). No one seems to care. The local paper is full of outrage over the construction noise and re-paving that this deal required. The fact that this will shave months, if not a year, off our recovery time doesn't seem to appeal to anyone.

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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by ZombieGranny » Tue Jul 14, 2015 10:25 am

Part of the reason people resist it, is that this is what they hear...
<insert scary voice here>
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA ---
The earthquake will drop everything west of the mountains into the sea or cover it with hundreds of feet of water, and all the volcanos will erupt around the entire RING OF FIRE!!!!!!!
MASS EXTINCTION - THE WORLD WILL END IN FIRE AND WATER!!!!!
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

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Not kidding really, I have seen all of that and more. People find it melodramatic, so they dismiss it out of hand and feel the entire subject is stupid.
If people are expected to listen, then one needs to be a little more calm.
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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by Myana » Tue Jul 14, 2015 4:13 pm

Related article from the Oregonian:
http://www.oregonlive.com/education/ind ... _big-photo

Near the bottom, it mentions plans to build tsunami-evacuation buildings, things that can withstand a tidal wave, in the sections of the Washington coast where the shoreline is so low that there's no possibility of escape.

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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by Mampfies » Tue Jul 14, 2015 5:53 pm

This is a must read for anyone living in Cascadia, goes into a lot of detail on infrastructure damage:

http://crew.org/sites/default/files/cas ... o_2013.pdf

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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by quazi » Wed Jul 15, 2015 5:19 pm

I wonder what preparations people living in the inundation zone with no chance of escape could make (other than "just move")?

Doing a quick search on Amazon it looks like a person could buy a life jacket and a helmet for under $50. A person might be able to attach a water bottle and some marine signaling devices for not that much more. This wouldn't protect a person from being squished against a building by a truck but it might allow them to float for a few days even after being knocked unconscious or having bones broken.

I don't know that much about life jackets, so I don't know if the cheap ones are the ones that will automatically flip you over if you end up face down in the water.

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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by the_alias » Thu Jul 16, 2015 4:58 am

quazi wrote:I wonder what preparations people living in the inundation zone with no chance of escape could make (other than "just move")?

Doing a quick search on Amazon it looks like a person could buy a life jacket and a helmet for under $50. A person might be able to attach a water bottle and some marine signaling devices for not that much more. This wouldn't protect a person from being squished against a building by a truck but it might allow them to float for a few days even after being knocked unconscious or having bones broken.

I don't know that much about life jackets, so I don't know if the cheap ones are the ones that will automatically flip you over if you end up face down in the water.
Don't live in the affected area but there are survival pods designed to survive a tsunami. Probably going to be a lot better than a life jacket and a helmet.

Here is one even designed in WA by someone who looked out at the Pacific and had a thought related to the original article http://www.gizmag.com/survival-capsule-tsunami/32010/
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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by quazi » Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:40 pm

That's a pretty cool survival pod, definitely better than a life jacket and helmet.

It will be interesting to see how low they can get the price if they get into mass production.

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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by Dabster » Thu Jul 16, 2015 7:16 pm

Maast wrote:
I'm fairly deep inside the sound and a couple hundred feet high so the tsunami won't get us, but the Narrows bridges (main access to the other side of the sound) likely will not survive, which will make travel almost impossible since the other roads out of the peninsula go through the inundation zone.
Take the ferry, duh! :crazy:

My sister in law, who lives in Poulsbo and works right by the Bainbridge ferry dock, is in complete denial that this could/would/might affect her. It's like she thinks you can control where the water goes when you over-fill a cup.

The NOAA animation of the flooding of Elliott Bay is horrifying.
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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by Dogan » Thu Jul 16, 2015 8:38 pm

quazi wrote:I wonder what preparations people living in the inundation zone with no chance of escape could make (other than "just move")?
Ham radio to say your last words after phones are jammed with panicked people. Only partly joking.

I live west of the 5, a good portion of my family is on the coast, in areas where (served by narrow 2 lane highways with bridges aplenty) evacuation to evac sites is possible, but escape from A Big One is impossible. They're all getting little "Do not open until Quakesmas!" kits, waterproof boxes with a HAM, batts, etc. The facts sheet I print will literally say "Merry Quakesmas! Don't panic, ...". Because after the quake, there will be about 15 minutes before the wave hits, and phones will go down (if not during due to damage to infrastructure) then at most 45-60s after the quake due to massive traffic. 14 minutes is more than enough time to scan the sheet, insert the batts, power up and have a nice tearful "I love you mom/dad/brother/sister" type conversation.

Personally, my SO and I plan to outfit our apartment with a family sized load of food and medical supplies over the next few years, our BOV situation will be restructured in the next year or so, lay out plans for fortifying our BOL after the quake, as well as get our first aid certs and read up on medical care. Oh and go over the tons of auxiliary stuff that isn't sexy.
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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by Maast » Thu Jul 16, 2015 8:58 pm

Now that my attention has been caught (I knew the Cascadia fault existed, but had no idea of the sheer extent of the danger) I've been looking into it - turns out there's a lot of existing research on it.

The inner Puget Sound (think Seattle and points south) isn't in much danger from the primary oceanic tsunami a Cascadia quake would do - that going to hammer the coastal regions, the mouth of the sound, and the Oak Harbor area.

The primary danger is the 3 faults INSIDE the sound that would be co-triggered by the cascadia quake; the Seattle fault, the Tacoma fault, and the Rosedale monocline (which goes right under Gig Harbor - yay me). They're going to trigger tsunamis inside the sound that slosh around like water in a bathtub.

Also, since the whole region is going to move westward 30 to 100 feet in just a few mins it's going to slosh the sound east-west in addition to the north-south tsunamis.

It's funny how one well-written media article brings public attention to a problem - even though the data has been available for years.
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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by Dogan » Fri Jul 17, 2015 6:48 pm

Dogan wrote:
quazi wrote:I wonder what preparations people living in the inundation zone with no chance of escape could make (other than "just move")?
Ham radio to say your last words after phones are jammed with panicked people. Only partly joking.

I live west of the 5, a good portion of my family is on the coast, in areas where (served by narrow 2 lane highways with bridges aplenty) evacuation to evac sites is possible, but escape from A Big One is impossible. They're all getting little "Do not open until Quakesmas!" kits, waterproof boxes with a HAM, batts, etc. The facts sheet I print will literally say "Merry Quakesmas! Don't panic, ...". Because after the quake, there will be about 15 minutes before the wave hits, and phones will go down (if not during due to damage to infrastructure) then at most 45-60s after the quake due to massive traffic. 14 minutes is more than enough time to scan the sheet, insert the batts, power up and have a nice tearful "I love you mom/dad/brother/sister" type conversation.

Personally, my SO and I plan to outfit our apartment with a family sized load of food and medical supplies over the next few years, our BOV situation will be restructured in the next year or so, lay out plans for fortifying our BOL after the quake, as well as get our first aid certs and read up on medical care. Oh and go over the tons of auxiliary stuff that isn't sexy.
Update: Upon further thought (and thinking about the various scenarios that might be in play when TRB1 hits), there actually is a bit of hope for my family on the coast.

We all ride dirt bikes. Mostly old XR600's which my dad knows intimately and has a large stock of spare parts (read: Entire carburetors and engines) for.

Me, my brother and my father all know the logging roads intimately (which start legitimately 5 minutes away from one house), and which reach from the end of my old homestead's road deep into the Elliot Forest and all the way north to Highway 38, East to the I-5, and south to god knows where, probably California. The best situation I can think of is to have my whole family at the homestead when the quake hits. Shaking stops, if the house and all the people survive, everyone bails. Grab a gun, some food, some water, a HAM, get on a bike and ride hard and fast East on the logging roads (which are mostly gated but we have access from one of the owners) for an hour or so, then stop, go to ground, and wait it out.

Perfect? Hell no. But it would give everyone in that part of the family the best chance for survival, as all the ridges, valleys would act as baffles in the face of the tsunami. Go far enough, fast enough, they might make it. My family in Seattle and San Francisco will probably not be so lucky.

Worst case, family is at work in various concrete block buildings right on the coast and possibly a nuclear plant depending on who has the contract at that time. Not kidding at all.
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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by Brewer_Dave » Sun Jul 26, 2015 1:32 am

Perhaps not on the scale or magnitude of the Cascadia fault, but here's another recent article of interest on earthquakes.
http://www.latimes.com/local/california ... tml#page=1

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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by Kilo147 » Sun Jul 26, 2015 4:12 pm

What we need to do is start a Vault program, and build massive underground vaults, survival shelters, in every community, capable of housing thousands indefinitely.

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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by The_bangfrog_MK23 » Sun Jul 26, 2015 4:26 pm

Kilo147 wrote:What we need to do is start a Vault program, and build massive underground vaults, survival shelters, in every community, capable of housing thousands indefinitely.
You mean, in case of FALLOUT?

I see what you did there :mrgreen:
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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by DarkAxel » Sun Jul 26, 2015 5:40 pm

Myana wrote:...The only part of earthquake prep that Oregon's done well is tsunami markers. Evacuation route signs are everywhere on the coast. They tell you, at a glance, which roads go high and which ones peter out in the lowlands. In many parts of the coast, the Coastal Range is immediately at hand and you can get above 100 feet within a minute. Not saying it's safe, but if you pay attention to those signs (and I do, being a frequent tourist at the coast), you should have an idea where to go...
I think I should point out that the Coastal Range and the greater Cascade area might lose a good chunk of elevation if "The Big One" hits due to the nature of subduction faults. Those mountains owe their existence to the pressure the Pacific plate is putting on the North American Plate. A major quake could cause that area of the North American plate to flatten back out some. Mountains would lose elevation. Islands in the area would sink. This would happen before a tsunami warning could go out. Those clearly marked roads that lead to safety could lead to an area below sea level after the quake. As a prep for tsunamis coming from elsewhere those signs are a good idea. As a prep for a major earthquake and tsunami in the area? Maybe they will help. Who knows?
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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by Kilo147 » Sun Jul 26, 2015 7:07 pm

The_bangfrog_MK23 wrote:
Kilo147 wrote:What we need to do is start a Vault program, and build massive underground vaults, survival shelters, in every community, capable of housing thousands indefinitely.
You mean, in case of FALLOUT?

I see what you did there :mrgreen:
Actually, I'm all for a real. Vault program, one for every neighborhood.

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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by The_bangfrog_MK23 » Mon Jul 27, 2015 5:58 am

Kilo147 wrote: Actually, I'm all for a real. Vault program, one for every neighborhood.
I do agree that a Vault in this sense could help in a lot of scenarios.
However, I'm not sure if it would be all that helpful if the very medium the vault is built in, namely the earth, is shaking in the projected violent manner. The word "deathtrap" comes to mind in regards with collapsing walls and ceilings as well as entries and exits.

Maybe smaller versions of "Vaults" like the Swiss "Luftschutzkeller" (basically a personal bunker as part of the house) would be a better option? Where not a whole neighborhood is placed in one Vault but only, say, the inhabitants of a single house. This might be better suited to withstand a big quake than a big, multilayered vault. Although it wouldn't be a suitable long term habitat due to size restrictions... :words:

Edit: Fixed link.
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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by Langenator » Mon Jul 27, 2015 11:04 am

I seem to recall that Cascadia was the subject of the pilot episode of MegaDisasters.
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Re: The Really Big One - PNW Earthquake

Post by teotwaki » Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:27 am

quazi wrote:I wonder what preparations people living in the inundation zone with no chance of escape could make (other than "just move")?

Doing a quick search on Amazon it looks like a person could buy a life jacket and a helmet for under $50. A person might be able to attach a water bottle and some marine signaling devices for not that much more. This wouldn't protect a person from being squished against a building by a truck but it might allow them to float for a few days even after being knocked unconscious or having bones broken.

I don't know that much about life jackets, so I don't know if the cheap ones are the ones that will automatically flip you over if you end up face down in the water.
From everything that I have seen the water will be full of very dangerous debris and pretty much grind up any person in the water. Just watch some of the videos on line for views of the meat grinders that tsunamis generate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Tuu-hlWRCQ

Best bet is to get up as high as possible and stay out of the water.
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