PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In the face of “the Big One” — a 9.0 magnitude earthquake that would cause mass destruction in the Pacific Northwest, the Oregon Department of Emergency Management has revised its playbook for response efforts.
The earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone and subsequent tsunami that would devastate the Oregon Coast could happen in the next 50 years.
The damage expected from the Cascadia event would be worse than the destruction from the 7.0 earthquake that rattled Alaska last month.
Paula Negele with the Oregon Department of Emergency Management said we can learn from our northern neighbors.
“What it was like for them in the immediate aftermath, what could they do, what they couldn’t,” she said.
“What do we do the first six hours, 12 hours, 24 hours — all the way up to a two week scenario.”
Those are the questions answered in the latest version of the Cascadia Playbook. It’s a step-by-step 14-day guide for how agencies across the state plan to respond to “the big one.”
The biggest change from the previous playbook comes from a lesson learned in the Cascadia Rising mock exercise in 2016. Families will need much more than the previously recommended 3 days of supplies.
“People need to be prepared with food, water and other types of supplies for at least two weeks because we know that when Cascadia hits that infrastructure is going to be significantly affected, that we are not going to be able to get to people in a timely manner,” Negele said.
The hourly breakdown includes requesting federal help in the first hour and rescue missions and evacuations at 6 hours.
But what happens after the planned two weeks?
“We know if we can do everything that is in the book in two weeks and take care of all of those activities,” Negele said. “Then we will be on a pretty good path to be able to begin the recovery efforts. We will, by that time, hopefully have significant roads, arterials open, so that people can get places.”
With and estimated 25,000 possibly fatalities, Negele said preparation makes all the difference.
“There is not a whole lot we can change in whether or not it is going to happen,” she said. “But we can change how ready we are for it and we can make sure we are survivors of Cascadia earthquake and not victims.”