By Bruce A. Smith, and Special to the Mountain News-WA
Pierce County, in conjunction with other regional emergency management agencies, is hosting a free workshop on earthquake preparedness. The event will be held at the Evergreen State College campus in Tacoma on Wednesday, Oct. 11, from 6:30-8 pm.
The featured speaker will be Bill Steele, a scientist and UW professor well-known for his depth and breath of knowledge on earthquakes common to the Pacific Northwest, including the epic potential of a deep seismic event along the Cascadian fault line. Such an earthquake could be 9.0+ and cause enormous destruction throughout the Puget Sound region and trigger a massive tsunami just off the coast.
I spoke with Dr. Steele in 2015 about these possibilities, and he told me such an earthquake could completely destroy “everything west of I-5,” and cripple Seattle and Tacoma for months – requiring people to survive in place for up to one month before help could arrive.
Such devastation is comparable to what is currently transpiring in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, where millions of residents are without food, fresh water, fuel or electricity. Officials are scrambling to clear port facilities in San Juan, and reports in the New York Times claim that emergency supplies will be arriving shortly – but only during daylight hours.
The Pierce County Department of Emergency Management has issued the following press release today concerning their workshop and Dr. Steele’s presentation.
Learn and prepare for an earthquake in Puget Sound
From Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, to a 8.1 magnitude earthquake off Mexico’s south coast, and wildfires burning across the northwest, these recent disasters serve as a reminder of the necessity of emergency preparedness. And scientists expect the entire Puget Sound region to be hit with a significant earthquake without warning which could make the Nisqually quake look like a minor trembler.
Pierce County’s Department of Emergency Management, and Aging and Disability Resources, in conjunction with the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, is hosting a free Getting Real About Earthquakes workshop on Oct. 11, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Evergreen State College – Tacoma campus, 1210 6th Ave. in Tacoma. No RSVP is required.
“The recent disasters in Houston and the entire state of Florida are wakeup calls to us all,” said Aaron Van Valkenburg, Pierce County Aging & Disability Resources manager. “Even with advance warning, residents were overwhelmed with the consequences. We live on the edge. Earthquakes don’t give any warning. We have to be prepared at all times.”
Keynote speaker is Bill Steele from the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network at the University of Washington. Steele has been recently touring the region introducing the ShakeAlert, West Coast Earthquake Early Warning Project (EEW) to businesses, utilities and public agencies. He is also seeking to document how EEW can be used to reduce injuries and economic losses during an earthquake and speed recovery.
In addition to the keynote, a panel discussion will focus on impacts and preparation steps for families, older adults and individuals with disabilities. School staff will also discuss how elementary and secondary schools have prepared for the eventuality of a future earthquake.
Accommodations may be requested by calling 253-798-2221 before Sept. 29. For more information call the Aging & Disability Resource Center at 253-798-4600 or 800-562-0332.