Experts predict Oregon ‘will be toast’ when next big earthquake hits

Experts say residents can expect up to 6 minutes of shaking. (Media General)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One of Oregon’s top earthquake experts predicts the “really big one” will wipe out the entire Northwest. In fact, the area’s FEMA director said everything west of I-5 “will be toast”.

In The New Yorker article “The Really Big One”, Northwest FEMA Director Kenneth Murphy predicts 13,000 people will die in what’s referred to as the “Cascadia Earthquake and Tsunami”. Another 2,500 people are expected to be hurt in the devastating quake.

The article quotes an Oregon State University scientist who says the odds of the “really big one” are 1 in 10, especially since the area is 72 years overdue.

“You’d be pretty hard-pressed to find a hazard of this magnitude that could essentially cut off lifelines and supply chains and structures for 2 weeks,” Andrew Phelps, director of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, says.

According to Phelps, once the “really big one” hits, Portlanders should expect up to 6 minutes of shaking. Then come the landslides, followed by a 50-foot high tsunami. Seaside’s city planner says people there will only have 10-30 minutes to get out.

“Along the coast, it’s going to be a bad day for the state of Oregon, that’s for sure,” Phelps says. “But again, you can’t do everything to prevent hazards, but we can try to prevent those hazards from becoming disasters.”

Phelps says he recommends having an emergency preparedness kit ready with 2 weeks worth of supplies.

By this summer, Portland Public Schools will have updated nearly half of its buildings to meet earthquake standards. State agencies released a new book with step-by-step directions to ensure they’re working together.

“You want to say, in a perfect world this is never going to happen, but historically that just hasn’t been the case,” Phelps says.

An Oregon safety policy group also estimates it could take up to 3 months after the quake to restore electricity. It could take another 6 months to fix major highways in the region and a year for sewer services to get back up to speed.

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