The Domino Effect: Being Prepared for Local Consequences of Global Natural Disasters
Environmental Studies – PHS 100A
Warner Pacific Colllege
October 31, 2011
Science continues to make the world smaller. Events that might have been seen as isolated catastrophes hundreds of years ago now can be correlated to events that happen all over the globe. This can be exemplified in the chain of events that happen around the ring of fire. Tectonic plate movement around the Pacific Rim causes energy to build and release. The result is that communities that live around this plate are the most susceptible to earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes. (Withcott Brennan, p.41, 2011) It is imperative for Oregonians to be aware of the cause and effect of events that occur around the ring of fire.
On March 11, 2011, the USGS reported a 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Japan. The result for their country was over 15,000 killed, 4600 missing, and hundreds of thousands displaced. In addition, the economic loss was at least 309 billion dollars. (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqinthenews/2011/usc0001xgp/#summary, 2011) The loss was truly tragic. On the other side of the world, however, the Oregon and California coast also sustained damage as a result of a tsunami that occurred because of the earthquake. Tsunamis often are a result of the energy released from the seismic activity of an earthquake. The energy displaced from the earthquake creates a swell that can move across thousands of miles of ocean. (Withcott Brennan, p.44, 2011) This is exactly what happened on the west coast of the United States.
Although the damage from the earthquake was in no way comparable in America as it was in Japan, the lesson of correlative weather and seismic activity needs to be noted. In Brookings, Oregon the port manager, Ted Fitzgerald, reported over ten million dollars in damage. Furthermore, reports of piling and debris washing up all over the Oregon coast resulted in hundreds or thousands of dollars in damage in coastal communities. (http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2011/03/oregon_coast_tsunami_brookings_crescent_city_depoe_bay_report_serious_damage_photos_video.html, 2011) Both for the sake of humanity as well as the economic security of the community we must acknowledge our vulnerability to natural disaster and be prepared when it strikes.
It is noteworthy to discover in a city such as Seaside, Oregon, a popular center of tourism, fishing, and other commerce that there aren’t more measures in place to react to a tsunami. A check of the city of Seaside website notes that their tsunami warning system would have “content added soon.” (http://www.cityofseaside.us/community/tsunami-warning-system, 2011) With a little more research you will find a pamphlet that gives simple instructions to prepare for an evacuation. Inside the brochure there is large print that instructs you to move immediately inland if you feel an earthquake. It also differentiates between a local tsunami that requires immediate evacuation in comparison to a distant tsunami that may take up to four hours to strike and will be indicated with an official warning by siren. (http://www.cityofseaside.us/sites/default/files/file/Tsunami%20Evacuation%20Map10.pdf, 2011)
Beyond the power of local government, we do have the ability to be more prepared for the consequences of tsunamis. Much of the measurement of seismic activity is run by Oregon State University and the University of Oregon geology departments. These departments report seismic activity and even have websites such as the opdr.uoregon.edu disaster resistance site. These are the first reporters when geologic activity that could result in disaster occurs. By using science we not only understand the power of natural disaster, we also prepare for it.
Withcott, J Brennan, S (2011) Environment, The Science Behind the Stories pp. 41, 44 Benjamin Cummings, Boston
(2011) Magnitude 9.0 – NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU JAPAN, retrieved from http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqinthenews/2011/usc0001xgp/#summary, October 29, 2011
(2011) Oregon Coast Tsunami: Brookings, Crescent City, Depoe Bay Report Serious Damage, March, 11, 2011, retrieved from http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2011/03/oregon_coast_tsunami_brookings_crescent_city_depoe_bay_report_serious_damage_photos_video.html, October 29, 2011
(2011) Seaside Tsunami Warning System retrieved from http://www.cityofseaside.us/community/tsunami-warning-system, October 27, 2011
(2011) Tsunami Evacuation Map: Seaside, retrieved from http://www.cityofseaside.us/sites/default/files/file/Tsunami%20Evacuation%20Map10.pdf, October 27, 2011