Four Oregon Jurisdictions Bolster Tsunami Resilience

These jurisdictions, and seven future communities, are onboard to lessen risks to life and property, with the help of Oregon’s coastal program.

The Cascadia Subduction Zone, a fault line located 50 miles off the Oregon coast, can produce earthquakes of 9.0 or higher on the Richter scale. In the next 50 years, a major earthquake here stands a one-in-three chance of producing a tsunami that strikes the coast and its 22,000 residents within 15 minutes. Four Oregon coastal counties are improving evacuation plans and limiting tsunami-zone risks, thanks to grants, a land-use guide, and early risk-reduction outreach administered by the Oregon Coastal Management Program. More communities will soon follow.

The new regulations and plans will help these communities get extra funds for tsunami-evacuation-route signs from Oregon’s Department of Geology and Mineral Industries. What’s more, seven additional communities have signed on to undergo land-use planning for tsunami resilience.

Four jurisdictions—Coos County and the cities of Florence, North Bend, and Reedsport—incorporated the tsunami hazard overlay zones into their land-use planning programs. Regulations limit development of critical facilities within tsunami inundation zones, encourage stronger building techniques, and offer flexible options to people who want to make their development designs even more tsunami-resilient.

Coos County and the cities of Reedsport and Florence have also completed improvement plans for tsunami evacuation facilities. The coastal program collaborated often with communities to ensure that different evacuation perspectives and needs were included.

Tsunami planning funds came from the NOAA Office for Coastal Management’s Project of Special Merit and Regional Coastal Resilience grants. Similar funding for other communities was provided by NOAA’s Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program. (Original story 2016/Update 2019)

Partners: City of Florence, City of North Bend, City of Reedsport, Coos County, NOAA Office for Coastal Management, Oregon Coastal Management Program, and Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries