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.