Tsunami Drill

Third grade teacher Lillian Erb watches as her students take cover under desks and tables in the classroom Thursday afternoon. Students at both Madison Elementary and Sunset Middle schools headed uphill from Thursday afternoon as part of their Tsunami evacuation drill. The two school participated in the Great Oregon Shakeout in learning what to do in their classrooms in the event of an earthquake (get under their desks) and if a Tsunami is generated, head uphill from the school to a designated safety zone on Radar Hill.

COOS BAY — South Coast students now know what to do in case an earthquake or tsunami strikes.

Madison Elementary and Sunset students participated in the Great Oregon ShakeOut on Thursday, first learning to “drop, cover and hold on” and then evacuating to the top of Radar Hill. They joined the rest of the Coos Bay school district and several North Bend, Bandon and Reedsport schools in the drill.

The drill follows the Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup’s release of a report, “Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquakes: A Magnitude 9.0 Earthquake Scenario,” this week. It details the next possible “great earthquake” — of magnitude 8.0-9.0 or greater — and tsunami in the Pacific Northwest.

The Cascadia subduction zone is a 700-mile fault offshore. The last great earthquake was in 1700, when a 9.0 magnitude earthquake rocked the coast, followed by a tsunami.

“Stresses have now been building along the Cascadia subduction zone for more than 300 years, and the communities of Cascadia can be certain that another great quake will again shake the region,” according to the report.

The Juan de Fuca, Explorer and Gorda plates to the west are slowly being pushed beneath the North American Plate, upon which California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia sit.

“Strain builds up where they have become stuck (locked) and will be released one day in a great earthquake,” according to the report.

A Cascadia earthquake would cause permanent damage to the coast and cause losses of more than $70 billion, according to the report.

The report predicts that the “chances that an earthquake as large as magnitude 9.0 will occur along the zone within the next 50 years are about 1 in 10.”

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