320 years since last Cascadia event, emergency managers call for preparedness

Sunday marks 320 years since the last Cascadia event, an estimated 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami, and emergency managers are reminding Oregonians to be ready for the next “Big One.”

Many people in the Pacific Northwest are aware of the dangers of the Cascadia Subduction Zone since wider attention has been drawn to the 600-mile fault that runs from northern California to British Columbia, about 70-100 miles off the Pacific coast. The last Cascadia earthquake and tsunami occurred in this fault on January 26, 1700.

Although it’s been 320 years since the last Cascadia event, geologists know another one will happen and that it’s a good idea to be prepared. It’s not a matter of if, but rather when, the next Cascadia earthquake and tsunami will strike.

Althea Rizzo, geologic hazards program coordinator for Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management, says that knowing what to do, and how to be prepared for a large-scale earthquake, or any disaster, can help to calm fear and empower people to take action. That action, says Rizzo, includes putting together a family plan and emergency kits to be 2 Weeks Ready.

“Being prepared to be self-sufficient for two weeks is an achievable goal and you may be more prepared than you think,” Rizzo said. “See what you already have and you can get there over time.”

Leadership in Oregon is making it a priority to get better prepared for the next Cascadia event.

On Monday, Gov. Kate Brown is scheduled to attend an event commemorating the anniversary of Cascadia, and a briefing on the seismic safety technology called ShakeAlert, where she will also officially proclaim January 26-February 1 as Cascadia Earthquake Preparedness Week.

“When the next large-scale Cascadia earthquake and tsunami strike the Pacific Northwest, Oregon will face the greatest challenge of our lifetimes,” Brown said. “To be ready to recover, we must be aware and prepared. In the aftermath of a large-scale natural disaster, Oregonians will have to count on each other in the community, in the workplace, and at home until first responders are able to reach them. I urge everyone to start conversations this week with their families, friends, and loved ones about how to be safe and as ready as possible, especially by having two weeks of ready supplies.”

Oregon Office of Emergency Management has many tools and resources to be prepared for a Cascadia quake and other disasters. Check out our website at www.oregon.gov/OEM.

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