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Oregon Residents Prepare for Earthquake

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BROOKINGS, Ore. — Experts say the Southern Oregon coast may be overdue for a devastating earthquake.

Yesterday Curry County residents met in Brookings for the Tsunami Road Show, a statewide disaster preparation class to learn what impact a natural disaster could have, and how to survive its after-effects.

The earthquake risk comes from an offshore continental collision called the Cascadia Subduction Zone. It extends all the way from Northern California to British Columbia, and emergency planners say that if it shakes, it will shake hard.

“They’re gonna feel this thing in Idaho,” said Althea Rizzo, Program Coordinator with Oregon Emergency Management. “That’s how big it’s gonna be.”

Experts say a major earthquake historically hits here once every 240 years – the last one was more than 300 years ago. The next one could be crippling.

“Our East-West routes from the coast to the valley could be down for three to five years before regular traffic gets put back onto it,” said Rizzo.

Emergency planners and Red Cross agents taught attendees at the Tsunami Road Show how to evacuate and survive, not just for themselves, but as a community.

“Our goal with this is not so much that we can survive for long periods of time if there’s a big problem, but we might be able to help others as well,” said John Howard, a Brookings resident and attendee at the event.

Experts say that community mindset will help towns like Brookings survive a disaster.

“Spend some time, first of all, just getting to know your neighbors,” said Rizzo. “Know who has first aid training because you’re not going to be able to call 9-1-1. It would be nice to know if there’s a retired doctor in your neighborhood.”

While emergency planners work to reinforce our highways, bridges, and schools during the next 50 years, attendees say they’re willing to do their part by staying aware.

“If you allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security with these types of problems, you’ll be caught with your pants down,” said Howard.