Coos Bay runs tsunami evacuation drill

July 7, 2012 by  

Following the devastation of the tsunami in Japan during 2011, residents of Coos Bay, Charleston, and North Bend recently took part in an evacuation drill. Although the evacuation took place without the sirens or any tremors from an earthquake, thousands of people immediately halted their activities and made their way to assembly points. Volunteers were at the assembly points distributing water and essentials, just as in a real emergency evacuation.

Prior to the evacuation drill, thousands of people were notified with door-to-door canvassing, meetings, and advertising, possibly using local flyer printing services. A large number of people taking part in the drill were school children, who had to pretend they could feel the ground shaking and seek shelter under school desks. The kids then walked with teachers uphill to a football field, where Jodi O’Mara, the principal told them they had done “an awesome job.”

According to Stan Gibson, the fire chief in Coos Bay, the reality of last year’s tsunami in Japan has influenced the residents of Oregon Coast, which now takes the evacuation procedure much more seriously. He believes that images of cars being thrown around and buildings destroyed got the attention of people in the area. Federal legislation triggered by the tsunami in Sumatra in 2004 is funding for Oregon tsunami maps and evacuation procedures to be put in place throughout coastal areas of Oregon. Teams have been holding meetings and going door-to-door, providing residents with evacuation maps and instructions to keep themselves safe in the event of another tsunami.