As we all get together for feasting and celebrations for the Christmas Season I would like to suggest some important topics for family conversations around the dinner tables.
Most of us are blithely oblivious to the very present danger of the anticipated Cascadia Rising earthquake and tsunami event. It is almost too horrible to contemplate, yet we must if we are to preserve lives of our family members and the wider community.
Presently, very few realize the high likelihood of all power lines being down and no electricity to the city and county. Few anticipate what life will be like without a cell phone, computer, television, all the normal communication channels will be unavailable.
Most do not realize the fact that the entire downtown areas of Port Angeles and Sequim are likely to be inundated by a tsunami. Stores will be closed, their food stocks ruined by salt-water intrusion. Whatever is not ruined will be quickly bought up or looted immediately after the event.
Most do not fully appreciate the phenomena called “liquefaction” which is one of the effects of an earthquake where the ground under homes and buildings will turn to something like quicksand.
Most do not yet realize that many bridges, culverts, sewer mains, gas lines, water lines, power lines and other infrastructure will be crushed by the shaking of the earth, expected to last up to five minutes. Most do not realize their water wells will be useless due to loss of power and breaking of the pipes. Most cannot visualize sewer rising to the surface creating filth and widespread disease.
Most do not realize that underground fuel tanks and fuel pipes will be ruptured and gasoline, oil, and other toxic materials will be spilled upon the surface igniting fires and spreading rapidly. Gasoline and oil will float on the surface of the tsunami.
Some of you may remember back in 1970 when the Detroit River caught fire. Fire trucks will be unable to move about due to cracked and broken roadways. Ambulances will be locked into place and unavailable to move injured people to safety.
Most do not realize the Olympic Medical Center will likely go over the cliff it is built upon. Doctors and nurses will not be able to move about freely. Emergency personnel will not be able to move into search and rescue mode.
Many newcomers do not realize the entire downtown area of Port Angeles is built on glacial till that was washed down from the mountainside in 1917 called the “sluicing of the hogs back.”
Most cannot imagine the entire area’s buildings being picked apart, or as some say, “sandblasted” by the tsunami’s movement of logs now stacked on the waterfront awaiting transport to Asia.
Money is being spent and meetings are being held in hopes of informing the community and hopefully motivating the people to prepare for this looming catastrophe. One of the simplest preparations is the so-called “grab bag.” The suggestion is to have every family prepare a bag, box or covered trailer they can access if and when the earthquake/tsunami occurs. In this bag should be the absolutely essential things necessary to sustain the family for the weeks or months immediately after the event.
This would include a goodly supply of food, water, and medications. It should include a battery-operated radio to keep abreast of rescue efforts. It should include extra batteries or, better yet, a wind-up radio not dependent on batteries, which will be in short supply soon after the event.
Most insurance companies will only cover a 30 day supply of medication. It may be a good idea to prevail upon your insurance company provide a 90 day supply. Most medicines have a shelf-life of up to one year. If you cannot prevail upon your insurance company to do this it may be a good idea to scrape up the money to provide it yourself.
Emergency Management preparations suggest mapping out your neighborhood. Identify and list homeowners and businesses in your area that have generators, chainsaws, backhoes, bulldozers, excavators and other equipment that will become invaluable in returning things to as near normal as possible.
Neighbors should also determine who, in their area, are dependent on medical devices requiring electricity. Be able to match them up with people who have generators.
Everyone who has this type equipment should ensure a goodly supply of gasoline or diesel for which to operate the equipment. There will be no roads over which to resupply food, fuel, water and other necessary items to sustain life.
These are not your usual Christmas Dinner conversations but are likely the most important conversations we can have. We are in a special place and, if we intend to stay, we need to be prepared.