Throughout the summer, emergency response managers in Coos and Curry counties on Oregon’s south coast held a series of exercises to prepare for the big earthquake, a major tsunami, or other disasters.
“We always like to play to the worst-case scenario and plan for the Cascadia subduction [earthquake],” said Debbie Mueller, emergency coordinator for Coos County. “It would leave most of the Southern coast in small islands. And so part of planning is, where are these islands going to be? How are we getting food to them? And how do we keep people safe?”
Mueller says in Coos County alone there are 47 bridges that need retrofitting and the port would likely be underwater after an earthquake.
She adds that the Army Corps of Engineers has identified local beaches that could be used as landing areas to get supplies to the area when it’s cut off after a quake.
“I think one of the biggest things we’re learning,” said Mueller, “is that we really need to work together beforehand with our partners to know … what everybody’s capability is before we then ask for assistance from the state.”
Scientists predict a nearly 40% chance that a magnitude 7 or greater earthquake will occur in the Cascadia Subduction Zone in the next 50 years.
Debbie Mueller spoke with “Think Out Loud” host Dave Miller. Click play to listen to the full conversation: