Our Northwest

Damage from overdue Cascadia quake will be massive

Tuesday, July 14, 2015by  Jon Osterberg

The Great Cascadia Earthquake is coming, and a sobering article about it in The New Yorker is gaining attention.
     A key theme: Despite scientific knowledge proving the threat is real – and overdue – Northwest officials have not taken enough serious steps toward saving people before the megaquake and ensuing tsunami strike.
     Among the disturbing yet fascinating details presented:

  • If the entire Cascadia subduction zone gives way, everything from California to Canada and from the continental shelf to the Cascades will drop and shift.
  • FEMA officials assume “everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.” That areas comprises 7 million people.
  • The Northwest has experienced 41 Cascadia megaquakes in the past 10,000 years, an average interval of 243 years. We’re now 315 years into a 243-year cycle.
  • Unlike Japan, the Northwest has no earthquake early warning system.
  • After shaking begins, the electric grid will fail everywhere west of the Cascades and possibly beyond.
  • Up to 30,000 landslides will hit Seattle alone.
  • The tsunami inundation zone includes Oregon’s coast, where 22% of the population is age 65+, and more than 30% of them are disabled.
  • FEMA estimates 13,000 deaths, 1-3 months to restore electricity, 1-12 months to restore drinking water and sewers, and 6-12 months to restore major highways.

     It’s indeed a sobering but compelling tale. Read The New Yorker article.

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