A huge earthquake and tsunami exercise called Cascadia Rising is taking place this week throughout Washington State. The exercise will focus on the local, state and federal response to the first true week of a Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake and tsunami event across the 800-mile fault line that stretches from Northern Vancouver Island to Cape Mendocino, California.
All jurisdictions within Grays Harbor County will be participating at different times and on various levels throughout the week-long event. Over 50 counties, plus major cities, tribal nations, state and federal agencies, and businesses across Washington, Oregon, and Idaho will be participating in the Exercise. The event is being coordinated through FEMA Region 10, and will provide every citizen, community, jurisdiction and response agency of the County, an opportunity to participate and work with Military, Federal, State and local response organizations in order to develop a robust plan for disaster response.
Chuck Wallace with the Grays Harbor County Emergency Management Agency said “it will provide a tremendous opportunity to test our local emergency plans as well as test the new Washington National Guard Response Plan for such an event in Washington State.”
Take a minute at some point today, or maybe later this week, and think what would you do? right now, if there was a Cascadia earthquake creating a tsunami right now? The quake would last around 4 minutes, and you would have roughly 20 minutes to get to the highest ground possible, depending on where you are. Do you know where the highest ground is right now? Or where the nearest, highest ground to your home is, and does your family know to meet there?
You can’t drive there. liquefaction and damage from the 4-minute quake will make roads impassible, and bridges bend at the piers.
These questions may seem simple but can save lives if you know them well, because in the event of a major Cascadia earthquake you will be the first responders, to your family, your neighbors, and to people you will meet in crisis.
The exercises will be based on a full rupture of the Cascadia Subduction Zone which stretches from Northern California, North to British Columbia. It will be a 9.0 magnitude earthquake lasting 4-5 minutes in duration which will affect all of Western Washington, followed by a tsunami which will impact all coastal communities of the State. The exercise focuses upon the first four (4) full days following the Cascadia Earthquake rupture.
The Cascadia Rising Exercise will begin June 7th and end June 10th. The Grays Harbor County Emergency Coordination Center will remain open on June 11 & 12th in support of the Ocosta School dedication, (The first vertical evacuation, tsunami engineered, safe haven building in North America), and for two Search & Rescue exercises over the weekend interfacing civilian and military search and rescue volunteers along with search dogs with their trainers.
Wallace added, “This will be an exciting and very informative event for all involved. It will help reinforce our capabilities for response to such an event, effectively reducing the impact of this natural disaster event upon all communities and their citizens.”