Saturday, September 29, 2018

You never know when it may happen to you

We've spoken often in these pages of the need to prepare for emergencies.  Nevertheless, sometimes the emergency arrives so quickly and unexpectedly, and is so devastating, that all the preparations in the world won't help.

Consider yesterday's earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Indonesia.  Just look at these video clips.  Both show a second tsunami arriving:  you can see damage left by the first tsunami before the next one strikes.

Anyone whose emergency preparations were stored in one of the buildings hit by the tsunami, or who was relying for their getaway on a motor vehicle caught up in the flood . . . all their plans were suddenly derailed.  Precisely the same thing might happen to anyone on the west coast of the USA, who gets caught up in an earthquake and tsunami on the Ring of Fire.  It's by no means impossible.

Plan and prepare by all means, but consider all the possibilities.  In a situation like that above, some supplies stored within relatively easy reach, perhaps with a friend living on higher ground, might make all the difference.  Bicycles, stored where they're not easy prey for thieves, and are as safe as possible from that sort of damage, might also be a life-saver.  The threat of earthquake and tsunami was and is foreseeable in that part of the world (as it is in California, Oregon and Washington states in the USA).  Forethought can help you plan for the worst.

Options.  It's good to have them.



Dave said...

Really, the only way to prepare for a tsunami is to live somewhere with enough separation - vertical and horizontal - from the water that that water can't get to you.

And if you enter the danger zone, for whatever reason, be prepared to boogie for high ground inland as soon as the sirens go off, or the shaking stops.

I spent some time stationed at Ft Lewis, WA. My unit had disaster response as one of our secondary assignments, so I got to attend a conference on the Cascadia Subduction Zone, and what it can (and will, it just a matter of when) do.

Some areas on the coast (including the place we were sitting) might have as little as 10 minutes warning before the first wave hit. And most of these places aren't super easy to get to by road - and the main road runs right along the coast, in the tsunami zone.

The nightmare scenario for the planners was a quake (8.0+ on the Richter; the CSZ is a nasty one) and tsunami that hit shortly after dark, in the winter, in rainy (ie, normal for the area) weather. Even the people who made it to high ground in time are going to be huddling on hillsides, soaked by the rain, with temps in the low to mid 40s.

Even if you can get the crews to the birds (8.0 quake, remember?), even the military helos out of Ft. Lewis are going to have a hard time flying at night, in that kind of weather. So aerial rescue probably won't start at least until the sun comes up. Hwy 101 along the coast is going to be washed out in a whole bunch of places, and many of the roads connecting over the coast range will be blocked by quake-induced landslides, taking days, if not weeks, to clear.

The fastest bet for getting heavy equipment to those coastal towns might actually be amphibious ships coming from San Diego and Pearl Harbor.

Aesop said...

Actually, not so much.
While the earthquake danger here is real, the tsunami risk is negligible. Unlike Indonesia, Japan, or Hawaii, little west coast real estate of note or import except harbors and wharfsides, and some $1M beachfront real estate would be affected by anything less than 20 stories high, since most of the coastline enjoys a rapid rise to coastal mountains, and one is 100' or more above sea level in a matter of yards, not miles.
Unless you're at the harbor, in the beach parking lot, or living on the sand itself, you'll be watching the tsunami from a cliff far above it, or on TV, and it wouldn't even be much of a traffic snarl outside of Pacific Coast Highway.
Even LAX airport, a scant few hundred yards from the shore, sits at 125' above sea level.

Anything that could drive a wave inland enough to do enough damage would have to be large enough to level the nearby cities in the first place.

A tsunami hereabouts would mostly be just a curiosity, except for the few Darwin Award contestants who'd go down to the breakwater to see it, and that's a self-correcting problem.

McChuck said...

Downtown Seattle is built on mud, originally under the high tide line. While a tsunami might be unlikely in the sound, it's not impossible. And it would only take a twenty foot wave to do a lot of damage.

Unknown said...

+1 to what Dave said.

Every highway bridge on 101 and on the roads over to the coast will be damaged or closed for inspection, with zillions of landslide closures.

The earthquake effects will reach inland to the Willamette Valley (ie the I-5 corridor), so bridge closures there as well. Relief supplies will be very slow to arrive, especially for the less-important deplorables out in the boonies.

Geologists say 35% chance in the next few decades.

- Don in Oregon

Larry said...

What Aesop says might be true for major cities, there are scads of small towns and harbors along that coast. There's a reason places like Crescent City have tsunami sirens and signs all over the place marking evacuation routes. Contra Aesop, tsunamis are a very real (if uncommonly rare) danger to many small towns right on the coast. Most with only the coastal highway as the only land access.

Roy said...

I live in the midwest. Tsunamis are not an issue.

Tornadoes on the other hand...

Dave said...

There are a lot of small towns along the coast, such as Astoria, Long Beach (WA, not CA), and Grays Harbor, some of which are quite vulnerable. The ORNG's Camp Rileah (sp?) is also right on the water, only some dunes for separation.

The good thing is that the major urban areas (Portland, Seattle) are fairly well sheltered from tsunami effects.

deb harvey said...

other disasters;
i suddenly and recently lost my husband after a medical emergency.
we have a lot of debt and income suddenly drastically reduced. you think you have time to cut down debt, but don't assume. disaster can strike anyone at any time.
get OUT of debt ,make sure you have life insurance with a good company, like new york life, and have all necessary papers at hand--birth, death and marriage certificates as well as insurance policy numbers.
if you have no property know what is available in your area. area agency on aging, catholic charities, HUD. the waiting lists are long. if you have pets you may not be able to find a place which will accept them.
emergencies are other than geological!

ErisGuy said...

Bicycle? Depends on the weather. And the state of the roads. And the type of bicycle. I’d hate to attempt to ride a touring bike on broken, muddy roads during a Oregon rainstorm. Off road with a touring bike? Not a chance. Spare hiking boots would be better.