East coast earthquake also 'felt' on West coast as locals recall recent earthquakes

Dave Masko's picture

FLORENCE, Ore. – Mention the word “earthquake” and locals here in this coastal retirement community cringe; thus, it’s no surprise that residents who “survived” the recent Tsunami that slammed the West coast in the wake of the recent earthquake in Japan are in solidarity with those on the East coast that were also shaken, rattled and rolled after a 5.8 quake hit Aug. 23.

Florence, Oregon, is one of those places along the West coast that’s always on “standby” for an earthquake. Even the local fire department features signs posted along Highway 101 asking both locals and visitors “are you prepared for an earthquake.” In turn, this town of Florence – with its massive sand dunes and ongoing threats that the Earth will open up and sink the coast – was the inspiration for Frank Herbert’s “Dune” novel series. Florence also has a sister city in Yamagata, Japan, that suffered during the recent March earthquake that produced an 8.9 magnitude quake and triggered a massive Tsunami that reached the West coast, destroying local fishing docks and blasting locals with such fear that even today the word “earthquake” sends “shivers down my spine,” says Florence local Leslie.

Florence locals sharing with sister city friends from Japan on the lasting impact of an earthquake

Also, Florence residents such as Leslie have had a chance to chat this past week with visitors from the Florence sister city of Yamagata-shi, Japan.

“We’ve heard such heart-breaking stories from our friends from Japan who’ve enjoyed a visit to Florence. While I think they’ve been having fun, these sister-city friends seem to return to stories about that terrible earthquake from last March. We’re not surprised because we too were in danger when those Tsunami waves hit,” explains Leslie.

At the same time, local churches in the Florence area offered special prayers and offerings for the victims of Japan’s recent earthquake that BBC World News said “killed 15,281, with 8,492 missing and more than 5,363 injured.”

Oregon “prophet of doom” says Americans on both coasts must be ready for earthquakes

Blame it on global warming, or just that both the East and West coasts are long overdue for a massive earthquake to hit, but these are dangerous times for those who reply on the safety of the Earth under their feet. Such safety is now gone with the wind, says James Roddey, who serves as the director of communications at Oregon Red Cross.

Roddey is also an “Earth Sciences Information Officer” at the Oregon Department of Geology. However, he’s best known on the West coast as “the prophet of doom” – a nickname that’s now stuck to this famed earthquake scientist after the recent earthquake in Japan.

As an earth science officer for the state, Roddey educates communities on how to prepare and survive the earthquake and Tsunami that he predicts is virtually inevitable.

"They want to know more. They want to know what they can do," said Roddey, who was featured on a CNN interview back on March 15 after the recent earthquake in Japan.

In turn, CNN calls Roddey “the bearer of bad news. Very bad news: there's a one-in-three chance that a major quake will strike the region by 2061, according to Oregon State University scientists. The risk lies along a fault line that extends near Newport, Oregon, to Northern California. Despite those odds, many Oregon coast residents are nonchalant about the threat of a catastrophe on the scale of the temblor that struck Japan.”

"A lot of people don't even realize that we get earthquakes in Oregon," Roddey explained. "This used to be the place where Californians moved to get away from earthquakes."

Recent earthquakes happening more as people in U.S. can't depend on normal lifesyle in a time of "quakes"

“As Japan reels from what its prime minister called its "toughest crisis" since World War II, emergency preparedness officials in the United States around the world are paying close attention. Friday's 9.0-magnitude quake was the strongest in recorded history to hit Japan, according to U.S. Geological Survey,” reported CNN.

"What you are seeing in Japan today is what you will also see in our future," said Oregon State University geologist Robert Yeats. "Except they're better prepared than we are."

CNN also noted that “disaster preparations have been permanently imprinted on Japan's collective memory since the terrible Kanto earthquake in 1923 killed more than 140,000 people. The breathtaking damage from this most recent quake speaks to how bad the toll could have been -- if not for preparation.”

East and West coast residents living at risk due to GOP and Tea Party budget cuts

“In the United States, budget cuts could directly affect the country's tsunami preparation system. A spending plan passed last month by House Republicans allegedly would result in cuts to the National Weather Service's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Republicans deny their budget would specifically reduce the Tsunami center.

Whatever the case, some argue that cutting the center would be shortsighted. The American Society of Civil Engineers says that paying for resilient critical infrastructure before a disaster strikes saves money and lives in the long run,” reported CNN.

And, in California, nearly all of the state's bridges have been retrofitted for seismic resistance.

"We are far better off today than we were 20 years ago," said officials.

However, if a repeat of San Francisco's 1906 7.8-magnitude quake hits Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle,” officials said they would “not be surprised if one or two of the high-rise buildings in those cities would collapse."

Most of the high-rise office buildings built in those cities before the mid-1990s do not meet current standards for new construction, and most of them have not been upgraded, said officials.

"Those buildings were designed in the 1960s, '70s and '80s," he said. "The building codes in place in the Western U.S. in those years were far better than building code requirements in force in the Eastern U.S. today, but they're really not adequate for an event like what Japan experienced."

Oregon getting ready for next earthquake or Tsunami

"The United States needs to take more preventative action to prepare for disasters, said Roddey during the CNN interview here along the Oregon coast.

"If I had my hands on the purse strings I'd be spending hundreds of thousands -- if not millions of dollars -- to educate people, and to move schools and other critical facilities out of the inundation zones."

For Roddey, the right thing to do is crystal clear: Look to what the experts are predicting and act rather than react, added the CNN report on recent earthquakes.

"We're the first generation in modern history that understands the risks and consequences of an event like what happened in Japan," said Roddey. "How we prepare for it here literally defines us as a people."

Add new comment