This page will outline several ideas in the formative stages that we believe have the potential to increase public awareness of the CSZ risks. This is the crucial first stage in creating demand for more energetic programs in the public sector and a higher proportion of residents and businesses getting prepared.
Survival map. The screen shot on the right is from an online map maintained by Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) for the tsunami risk area of the Oregon coast. It shows the tsunami inundation zone as well as bridges that are likely to fail in the impending Cascadian Subduction Zone (CSZ) earthquake, assembly areas for evacuees, schools and government offices that may be good resources after the event. This concept could be expanded to the entire state west of the Cascades and published as a paper map, either on the back of the official state highway map or separately. It would indicate all likely route interruptions – collapsed bridges and landslides – that would affect road users. In the event of the quake, drivers could see how far they are likely to be able to drive before encountering a blockage, and where they could try to head afterwards to reach a point of refuge.
To create such a map would require that OEM work with local emergency managers to develop a strategy for protecting motorists on highways, especially including points of refuge and shelter.
Consider the plight of motorists stranded on Highway 26, for example, 25 miles from the coast. Depending on the time of day the CSZ event occurs, there may be hundreds of people in this situation. Should they start walking east toward the valley and away from the devastation in Seaside? Which of the communities in that direction are prepared to provide food, water and shelter to a few hundred people for two to four weeks until help arrives?
Seismic Integrity signage (placards) could alert residents to buildings, bridges, landslide areas, etc. that would be in greatest danger of collapse or inundation during the CSZ quake. This is consistent with a recommendation in the Oregon Resilience Plan, page 42:
“State should develop a seismic rating system to … help communicate seismic risk to the general public.”
The key point: these signs would be a constant reminder to the public that much work remains to be done to improve preparedness, as well as imprinting on people’s consciousness where the greatest dangers currently lie. If placed along state highways, these signs would help travelers know which of their usual routes are most likely to be blocked, and may motivate greater enthusiasm for approval of infrastructure funding proposals. If extended to government and commercial buildings, it could motivate officials and building owners to undertake seismic
upgrades, so that they would be allowed to display the green icon and make their buildings more attractive to prospective tenants. So as not to disrupt the economy, could be required to have a seismic assessment within a given period, scheduled according to a priority list relative to the number of lives that would be at risk during a CSZ event. (For example, an assisted living facility with 100 residents would be a higher priority than a foster care home with 3 residents.) After being informed of the assessment results, the owners would be allowed a grace period of perhaps three years to arrange for a seismic upgrade. At the end of such period, another assessment would be done and the appropriate signage installed at the building entrance. Thenceforth, owners could do further seismic work at any time and improve the risk estimate and signage. I would think this aggressive approach to safety assessment would be highly motivational to owners, create an active market for assessment and construction services, and result in thousands of lives saved.
An example of how signage can motivate action is the tsunami evacuation and inundation warnings on the Oregon Coast.
Survival information posters and cards. Provide every Oregon resident with a wallet card and a wall poster, updated regularly, with information about how to prepare for and survive the CSZ quake. These documents would provide links to current websites with information about preparedness and other resources, and instructions on what to do after the event. These materials could be distributed both electronically and in hard copy, in conjunction with such communications as voter pamphlets, driver license renewal notices, newspaper inserts, neighborhood meetings and other community gatherings.
We have more ideas that will be expanded shortly.