Tuesday, March 12 2013, 10:08 PM CDT
The next big earthquake
By Whitney Clark/KTVL.com
BROOKINGS, Ore. -- As new studies suggest southern Oregon is long overdue for a major earthquake, emergency workers are getting ready to
prepare residents for a disaster.
During the month of March, the Oregon Dept. of Emergency Management will be traveling to coastal communities for Tsunami Road Shows.
Althea Rizzo, a program coordinator for the state, says they are hoping to educate up to 1,500. She says they will be stopping in Brookings, where
there is a 37% chance of a large earthquake and tsunami in the next 50 years.
"We can look at what happened in other places, such as Japan in 2011 and Indonesia in 2004," Rizzo said. "Sometimes the waves got as high as 100 feet, so we can expect some very large waves."
Dr. Charles Lane, a professor at Southern Oregon University, says a major earthquake inclues something between 8.0 and 9.0 along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Lane says that zone runs 600 miles from northern California, to British Columbia.
"What we saw in Japan with that earthquake and that tsunami -- that's the mirror image, that's the bookend," Lane said. "That's what Oregon looks like on the other side of the pacific."
Rizzo says studies show the last time there was a big earthquake in our area was 312 years ago. She says new research shows the average time between events is about 240, which is much sooner than geologists had originally thought.
Now, Rizzo hopes to educate people about what to expect in an earthquake and tsunami. She says the ground would shake for five minutes, then depending on how the plates move the tsunami would hit within 15 to 20 minutes.
In a report released by the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission, the state says under current conditions the damage in Oregon would be catastrophic.
That report says electricity would be off in valley areas for up to 3 months and up to six months for the coast. Drinking water and sewage services would not work in the valley from a month to a year, while on the coast they could be off for up to 3 years.
Lane says roads and bridges in the Rogue Valley would be destroyed.
"We will be cut off for 72 hours from any sort of help, relief here in the valley," Lane said. "Bridges will fall down, so getting in and out by road is not going to be possible."
While no one can predict when the Cascadia fault will rupture, Rizzo said there is no reason to be scared.
"People should not be scared about this because there are hazards wherever you live," Rizzo said. "It's just a fact of life."
Red Cross volunteers will also be a part of the road shows. Those volunteers will help people prepare for a disaster.
On Wednesday, News 10 will speak with those volunteers and tell you what you can do to keep your family safe.