Oregon Tsunami Damage

Cities on the Pacific Ocean are vulnerable to Tsunami.

Tsunami damage to Oregon following the terrible March 11 9.0 earthquake in Japan was relatively light although Governor Kitzhaber is seeking disaster-area status for some coastal areas.  Damage in California was greater, and there was one known fatality.

Crescent City, just south of the Oregon border, was particularly hard hit—this area is unfortunately vulnerable to tsunamis and was devastated after the 1964 Alaskan earthquake.

Oregon’s major populations centers, namely: Portland, Salem, Corvallis and Eugene are all immune to tsunamis because the Willamette Valley is separated from the coast by tall mountains.  However, coastal communities like Brookings, CoosBay, Florence, Newport, Tillamook, CanonBeach and Astoria are vulnerable.  Fortunately, they have evacuation plans and procedures. 

Since the Japanese earthquake occurred thousands of miles away across the Pacific Ocean, there was a warning period of hours, and evacuations in Oregonwent smoothly.  The evacuations were prudent, but ultimately proved not needed to prevent the loss of life.  Better, of course, to be safe than sorry—the loss of life in Japan is over 13,000 people at the time of this writing, and no-doubt will climb.

Many properties around Lane County are in flood zones and may require flood insurance.  Typically, if you’re in the 100-year flood zone, your mortgage lender will require flood insurance.  Most homeowners’ casualty policies do not insure against floods or earthquakes without special riders.  You are only insured for what your policy says—not what you think you’re insured against.  It doesn’t hurt to ask your insurance agent for what perils you’re actually covered.

Earthquakes

The destruction from the recent earthquake in Japan and in Christchurch, New Zealand is a reminder of how vulnerable we all can be.  All construction and engineering is a balance between risk management and economics.  It’s possible to build a structure that will essentially never fall down.  However, that would be very expensive—and affording the building is the real key.
So how safe are structures in Eugene and Springfield?  At least one company thought they weren’t safe enough—Symantec is spending millions of dollars to upgrade its Springfield facilities.

The possibility of an earthquake in Lane County is there—we live in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which is known to be seismically active.  So what can you do?  Local building codes have continued to become more stringent and therefore more earthquake resistant so new structures will fare better if an earthquake does happen.  Plus, earthquake insurance is available.

What do most of us do?  Ignore the risk.

 

Will building codes keep earthquake aftermath in Lane County from looking like this?