Vancouver Prepares For 'The Big One'

Those living on the West coast have heard about the possibility of 'The Big One' taking place for a number of decades. It is estimated that the odds of a big Cascadia earthquake (M8) occurring within the next fifty years is roughly one in three, and the odds of the earthquake being bigger than a (M9) are roughly one in ten. There has also been increase in concern surrounding Yellowstone and worry over the likelihood of an eruption taking place at that location sometime within our lifetime. In a previous European Science Foundation study paper from last year, researchers warned of extreme geohazards that could possibly lead to massive devastation for the earth and human race. They insist that present-day society wouldn't be well-equipped to deal with such a potential hazard and disaster.




In an effort to get ready for the 'big one' in Vancouver, the city has gone ahead and established a variety of support hubs within the city. The 25 locations throughout the city will have signs indicating where people can gather following an earthquake event. These hubs will be locations where individuals can meet their family, coordinate a community response, share information, resources, and possibly share their supplies. Along the West coast, from Vancouver to San Francisco, scientists and city officials are increasing their earthquake preparedness. Oregon was recently ranked among the 10 best states across the country for its own emergency preparedness in the area of incident and information management. Vancouver is the first city that has adapted the system of disaster support hubs and similar initiatives are going to be launched in Seattle, San Francisco, and possible other areas.




It is estimated that a magnitude 9 Cascadia Subduction Zone quake will produce shaking that lasts for at least three to five minutes. “It will be much longer than any earthquake we've experienced historically in Washington and Oregon,” says Evelyn Roeloffs, a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey office. Those who haven't felt an earthquake before in their lifetime or those who would like to experience what such a M8 event might look like, have the chance to experience an earthquake simulator that is coming to Metrotown in Burnaby on Mother's Day. The mobile earthquake simulator is a 30-second ride that is free of charge and being rolled-out as part of Emergency Preparedness Week.


 State, federal, and local emergency management officials will also soon be running an earthquake simulation in the area of Blaine and Birch Bay Washington, in an effort to test for preparedness for a worst-case scenario. Officials expect that the water level in Blaine and Birch Bay could rise at least 15 feet following such an earthquake event. The simulation is expected to take place from June 7 – 10. The simulation is going to include working with FEMA and the National Guard, along with private businesses like BP. Teams are going to be asked to respond to events as if an emergency disaster has taken place, those teams will then be graded on their efficiency of their response.



Ed Flick, emergency manager for Marion County, said that the roads in the area might be damaged and out of commission for at least six weeks. In that time the government will be working to repair the roads and bridges in an effort to get travel and delivery of supplies back to normal. ATMs and credit cards won't be working without power and that is when cash is going to become possibly the only way of paying for items. It is also expected that electricity will be disrupted for weeks.


The Salem Statesman Journal is helping people get prepared by launching a public-service journalism project that is dedicated to bringing awareness to the dangers surrounding Cascadia Subduction Zone and the likelihood of an earthquake event. The journal will soon be starting a 12-month series of stories that are designed to help residents become more prepared for such a disaster. One of the main reasons that people cite for not being prepared for a disaster event, is that they didn't have the expenses available to prepare. This is why the Red Cross, along with the Statesman Journal, is going to be offering a 24-week guide that will run to coincide with bimonthly paydays, in an attempt to get residents thinking about a preparing their own emergency kit. An ideal kit should contain enough food, water, and First Aid supplies to last for at least two weeks.


So while experts admit that 'the big one' could occur tomorrow, or that it might not occur within our lifetime, it's clear that plans and preparations are already underway in a growing number of jurisdictions; to get ready for such a disaster scenario taking place. 


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