Extension helps coastal communities prepare for The Big One

Signs that warn about tsunamis were designed by the OSU Extension Service.
The OSU Extension Service designed signs that warn about tsunamis and that are now used internationally. (iStock photo)

Oregon coastal areas have new policies on tsunami preparedness

There's a 37 percent chance that a major earthquake will hit between Newport, Ore., and northern California in the next 50 years. If a magnitude-9 quake does strike, the ground could shake for several minutes. Highways could be torn to pieces, bridges may collapse, and buildings would be damaged or even crumble. If the epicenter is just offshore, coastal residents could have as little as 15 minutes of warning before a tsunami could strike.

So Oregon State University's Oregon Sea Grant Extension is helping residents, businesses and officials of coastal communities learn about the nature, likelihood and impact of a tsunami. Education and collaborative learning projects have included tours of OSU's tsunami wave-research facilities; development of a interpretive trail that starts at OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport and follows an evacuation route to a hill; and a self-guided, clue-driven scavenger hunt that leads visitors at Newport's South Beach State Park to higher ground. Other efforts include tsunami-preparedness workshops, updated publications, and outreach through local radio and newspapers.

Additionally, Sea Grant Extension faculty have helped local governments in the five largest coastal counties incorporate new research and understanding of tsunami hazards into their public safety and planning policies such as updated evacuation plans and identification of assembly areas.

Sources: Pat Corcoran, coastal hazards outreach specialist with OSU's Sea Grant Extension; OSU marine geologist Chris Goldfinger.

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