- Associated Press - Thursday, October 30, 2014

BEND, Ore. (AP) - Central Oregon will not bear the brunt of a major earthquake off the state’s coast, but it will bear the greatest responsibility during the relief effort, according to a presentation Wednesday night by those involved in planning for such a disaster.

The talk, titled “Shaken II: What the great Cascadia earthquake could mean to Central Oregon,” was held at the Tower Theatre and sponsored by the American Red Cross Oregon Mountain River chapter, St. Charles, OSU-Cascades and The Bulletin. Scott Ashford, Dean of OSU’s College of Engineering, discussed the fallout from recent earthquakes across the globe before turning to the Cascadia subduction zone, which runs along the West Coast from Vancouver Island to Northern California.

According to Ashford, who is chairman of the Oregon Resilience Task Force for studying the state’s preparedness, the Cascadia subduction zone spawns a major earthquake about every 300 years, with the last one occurring about 314 years ago.

“It’s nine months pregnant,” Ashford said, quoting a friend of his with the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

“Bend and Redmond, you’re green on our impact map, which isn’t really good, but is definitely not as bad as other places,” Ashford said, referencing a map that shifted from red on the coast to orange in the valley to green beyond the mountains. “This is a big event - it’s going to affect the entire country.”

The engineer outlined the catastrophic impact of a quake and the tsunami it would trigger on the Oregon Coast, saying electricity could be out for six months and running water down for up to three years. In the Willamette Valley, roads could be destroyed and water out for possibly an entire year. In Central Oregon, water could be back online within a day, Ashford said, but roads would take six to 12 months to become 60 percent operational.

“You’re going to be affected here, but the rest of the state is going to be depending on you,” Ashford said, noting Redmond Airport would become the state’s primary airport.

Ashford said the Resilience Task Force has recommended a number of steps to prepare for such an earthquake, in particular getting the roads likely to survive the event ready to handle increased traffic, but that it would take 50 years to realize the entire plan.

Locally, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Sgt. Nathan Garibay, one of the night’s speakers, is working to coordinate emergency services. Garibay stressed how the region may be affected by evacuees coming over the mountains, the number of which he called “the great unknown.”

“Prepare to shelter friends and families,” he said. “This is going to be a humanitarian event of epic proportions. You think Highway 97 is busy now, just you wait. There will be a massive influx of relief workers to Central Oregon.”

Part of the traffic would be to the St. Charles Health System, which will host the state’s closest trauma center to areas that may lose access to their health care facilities. Garibay said estimates suggest 65 percent of the state’s hospital beds will be put offline by the quake.

“The deaths will clearly be in the thousands, and the injuries in the ten thousands,” he said.

To make sure Central Oregon is ready to serve as the center of relief, Lisa Stroup, executive director of the American Red Cross Oregon Mountain River chapter, emphasized the need for locals to prepare for the earthquake.

“I saw folks in Eastern Oregon who had emergency kits with liquor and guns, and elsewhere I saw baseball bats,” she said. “That’s not going to cut it - they think it’s going to be vacation. Getting prepared is not rocket science.”

One of the most essential resources to have ready, Stroup said, is water.

“The formula for water is 1 gallon per person per day,” she said.

Resources on how to prepare an emergency kit are available on the Red Cross website.


Information from: The Bulletin, https://www.bendbulletin.com

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