Earthquake and tsunami hits Oregon … not really

Coincidental to the horrific earthquake, tsunami and the subsequent cascading incidents that devastated large portions of Japan this past weekend, the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program Warning Coordination Subcommittee is preparing for a series of preparedness exercises in this country.

We have watched the horrific television and Internet reports coming from Japan. The scope of the devastation and the overwhelming force of nature and the subsequent nuclear, petroleum and chemical incidents are almost unimaginable. Yet, Japan is a prepared nation … the Japanese government has identified the risks and hazards and the people of this nation were knowledgeable and prepared.

What if it happened in this country?

That’s one of the roles of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the separate emergency management agency coordinators and managers at the state and local municipal levels (Marietta, for example). These agencies identify the risks, threats and hazards that are most likely to impact the geographic areas for which they are responsible. These agencies prepare plans to respond to any of the incidents when they occur. They also have responsibility to have mitigation and recovery plans.

After the plans are developed, the next step is to practice for these “never going to happen here” incidents.

PACIFEX 11

PACIFEX 11 is just that: a practice! A series of exercises developed to simulate a real incident of significant proportion and test the responses … before it happens. Communities in the Pacific Northwest will participate in an exercise that has this setting: “The scenario will start with a magnitude 9.0 earthquake located 95 miles west of Eugene, Oregon at 44.2ºN, 125.0ºW. A large tsunami with vertical runups exceeding 5.0 meters near the source zone occurs along U.S. and Canadian Pacific coasts. The earthquake occurs at 1800 UTC on March 23, 2011. The tsunami inundates extensive sections of land in the epicentral region and also significantly impacts other U.S. and Canadian coasts in the Pacific.”

Communities and individuals have to know what natural and man-made risks, threats, hazards and vulnerabilities are most likely to impact them and set plans to mitigate, respond and recover from an incident. Earthquakes and tsunamis are not probable hazards for our area, but here is the listing of personal preparedness guides from the Lancaster County Emergency Management Agency to help your family be prepared for those incidents that “are never going to happen.”

[NOTE]: The enormity and scale of the unfolding horrific incidents and the response actions in Japan are revealed in this FEMA Situation Report(SITREP) and a collection of exceptional reporting and photos from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

[NOTE02]: Can U.S. Nuclear Plants Handle a Major Natural Disaster?

[NOTE03]: From Lancaster’s Intelligencer Journal/New Era, March 16, 2011: “Peach Bottom nuclear plant called safe.”

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