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Cascadia - The Earthquake Very Few Are Talking About

Updated on September 26, 2016
Neskowin Ghost Forest, Oregon USA
Neskowin Ghost Forest, Oregon USA | Source

The Pacific Northwest is now 315 years into a 243-year cycle which means that the really big one - a massive 9.0 earthquake that would kill up to 13,000 people, injure as many as 27,000, drop the coastline by about three feet and send a wall of water barreling towards land - is overdue. Right now it's not a question of if...but when it will happen, and current estimates place the likelihood of one happening in the next 50 years at 20%. Predicting earthquakes is difficult, and no one really knows when it's coming, but when it does hit, it will take up to a month to restore electricity, one year for water and sewer, up to two months for police and fire services, and over two years for healthcare facilities. But just because this monster is headed our way doesn't mean we should hunker down and live life in fear. Preparedness and an awareness of the issue is key to survival, and this is as easy as stocking your basement, garage and car with key supplies.

On January 26, 1700, an 8.5 magnitude earthquake struck off of the Oregon coast, along what is now called the Cascadia Subduction Zone - an area of coastline expanding from Northern California all the way up to British Columbia. One of the first signs that the earthquake was coming - dogs, barking and howling into the night - was followed by a couple of minutes of eerie silence before Cascadia buckled and snapped, leveling homes and trees and sending a wall of water clear across the ocean to Japan. Right now, the Cascadia Subduction zone and Juan de Fuca plate are stuck together like gears grinding against each other and when those two spring apart, they will trigger a megaquake similar in size and destructive force as the one in 1700.

Today, this scenario will be ten times worse as we've built homes on top of clay sediment and skyscrapers feet from each other. Bridges will fail, highways will be nearly impassable and entire communities will be isolated from the world around them until help arrives. At that precise moment, what matters is how well you prepare that will mean the difference between life and death.

FEMA calculates that you and your family will need 2 weeks of supplies, 14 gallons of water and 42 meals per person. These supplies include anything from flashlights and batteries to extra blankets, a Swiss army knife, rope, toilet paper, First Aid Kit, cooking utensils, medical records, birth certificate and SSC, contact information, pet food and medication, a wind-up radio, sleeping bag or tarp, portable water filter, plastic bucket (to catch rain water), entertainment (like cards and books), extra cash and cell phone. It's a good idea to go over escape routes and meeting plans now with your loved ones, because this earthquake could happen in a week, a month, or a year from now. The only thing we can do is prepare and wait.


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