QuakeSmart and the Pacific Northwest

We rolled north across the border into southern Oregon yesterday, headed to Seattle for a seismic anchorage project and a couple of QuakeSmart preparedness summits. The pickup is loaded with earthquake readiness display pieces and bracing products – rails, struts and fasteners. We’ve got the “Safe-T-Proof Disaster Preparedness Co.” signage on the rig, and we attract attention all along the route.

When we stop for gas or a bite to eat, we’re invariably asked what the heck all of this gear is for. And, when we bring up the fact we’re here to help businesses prepare for earthquakes, the common question we get is: “Do you know something we don’t know?”

I certainly hope not.

Oregon and Washington are both situated smack dab on the “Ring of Fire”. The Cascadia Subduction Zone makes the region prone to a significantly larger earthquake than could ever happen on the famous San Andreas Fault. How large an earthquake?

The Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup is a coalition of private and public representatives working together to improve the ability of regional communities, businesses and homeowners to reduce the effects of earthquakes. They’ve done a lot of research regarding a major Pacific Northwest earthquake, and published a startling scenario about the event called “Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquakes: A magnitude 9.0 earthquake scenario”.

And while this type of mega-quake would no doubt devastate the area in a multitude of ways, it is not the only earthquake that could cause real and lasting problems.

The diverse earthquake threat facing Oregon and Washington has been publicized for several years. Yet, I dare say, that Oklahomans are more earthquake aware these days than people in this region. The reason, nothing brings earthquake preparedness more into the public eye than actual earthquakes.

Enter QuakeSmart. This new FEMA program is designed to help businesses take needed steps to systematically prepare for earthquakes of all types. This coming week, earthquake experts will present critical information to local businesses regarding the specific seismic threat, the expected first responder response, and the QuakeSmart program itself. Initial QuakeSmart summits will take place in Seattle and Portland, and will no doubt be the first of many to come.

My hope is that when we return for preparedness efforts in the future, folks will know why the heck we are here.