I agree with radio show host Lars Larson on this one — the Oregon Legislature recently overturned a 25-year-old bill preventing new schools, hospitals, jails, fire and police stations from being built inside the state’s tsunami inundation zone.
Passage of House Bill 3309 has given in to construction and comp any interests in spite of the certainty the Oregon coast will suffer a devastating earthquake of magnitude 9.0 sometime within the next 40 to 50 years.
The truth is, this disaster is overdue now and could easily occur tomorrow. The Cascadia Fault is 600 miles long and is only 70 to 100 miles off the Oregon coast. When this fault breaks, there will be a fast-moving wave 100 feet high inundating every coastal town in Oregon. Geologists tell us residents will have “seconds to minutes” to evacuate on those narrow two-lane roads leading away from the coast. I would guess there will be more deaths in wrecks than from the tsunami itself as people panic trying to leave the coast. The resulting devastation will mean there will be no services or assistance for at least two weeks after the event. There will be billions of dollars of destruction and many lives lost.
Building the listed facilities inside this zone will guarantee the deaths of hundreds of school children and staff, and complete destruction of all rescue and fire agencies as well as police departments. There will not even be hospitals left for the injured to be treated. We have witnessed a similar catastrophic event in Japan — this one will be as bad or worse.
Coastal legislators claim their towns are suffering economically because of the old law. That is unfortunate — if true — but it pales in comparison with the certain complete and total destruction of every town and every economy along the coast of Oregon. The Cascadia Event is a mathematical certainty. Is it really worth that risk?