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The Big One – Backup

Courses, Talks, and Current Events

Courses, Talks, and Current Events

OSU course on Emergency Preparedness

Cascadia Earthquake Preparedness - OSU Extension Program Course

The Oregon State University Extension Program is offering an online course on earthquake preparedness, with an emphasis on the Cascadia Subduction Zone (Coastal Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia) where an 8.0-9.0 mega-quake will occur at some point. Material also relevant to people living near the San Andreas Fault. Four modules cover general awareness of an anticipated earthquake, what to do during and immediately following the earthquake and tsunami, what preparedness activities that can be done now, and how you can gain valuable skills to help your communities.

PSU lecture series on earthquake resiliency

Towards Resilient Futures - PSU lecture series

Portland State  is offering this monthly speaker series, with cutting-edge research and approaches to the resilience of urban and rural communities and systems to hazards and disasters. The speakers represent the core faculty of Portland State University’s new transdisciplinary Emergency Management and Community Resilience graduate program. The talks will critically focus on local and global issues and share pragmatic solutions. Upcoming talks include earthquake recovery efforts in Nepal, geodisaster resilience in the face of quakes, floods, and slides, and the Japan earthquake-tsunami. Don't miss it!

Community Preparedness Toolkit

Community Preparedness Toolkit - Ready.gov

Ready.gov, a government site, offers step-by-step directions along with useful resources for making your community, safer, more resilient, and better prepared. The Community Preparedness Toolkit can be used to develop a community-based approach to preparedness, such as a Citizen Corps Council. Citizen Corps is FEMA's grassroots strategy to bring together government and community leaders to involve citizens in all-hazards emergency preparedness and resilience. Citizen Corps asks you to embrace the personal responsibility to be prepared; to get training in first aid and emergency skills; and to volunteer to support local emergency responders, disaster relief, and community safety.

National Safety Council Emergency Preparedness Training

Emergency Preparedness Training - NSC Certificate Program

The National Safety Council offers a certificate program in Emergency Preparedness designed for company employees. Their online emergency preparedness program can be taken at a time and pace that is most convenient for employees, who can access the program over the internet from most browsers.  Once employees have completed the 8-hour program, they will receive a certificate of completion in Emergency Preparedness.

SAIF course on Community Emergency Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness Training - SAIF Community Training Program

SAIF is offering discussions on Community Emergency Preparedness in March led by Steve Eberlein, Resilience Director of Tipping Point Resilience, who will provide an overview of the Cascadia subduction zone risk and lead a discussion about the cultural barriers that prevent us from talking about emergency preparedness. Steve also provides tools for building a workplace and family emergency plan and emergency kit building. Register in advance.

Get involved - Join a Community Emergency Response Team

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) concept was developed by the Los Angeles Fire Department in 1985, which decided that basic training in disaster survival and rescue skills would improve victims' survival rates until responders or other assistance could arrive. The training program was so successful in L.A. that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encouraged expansion of the program to communities nationwide. CERT programs exist in many west coast cities and are free to members of the community. It's a great way to connect and learn about disaster preparedness in your area. Some of the larger programs are listed below.

Portland Neighborhood Community Teams

Portland NET Program - Portland Bureau of Emergency Management

Neighborhood Emergency Teams (NETs) are Portland residents trained by PBEM and Portland Fire & Rescue to provide emergency disaster assistance within their own neighborhoods. NET members are trained to save lives and property until professional responders can arrive and to help others without putting themselves in harm’s way. Anyone can join, and the training is free. Portland has one of the largest and oldest CERT programs in the country.

Puget Sound Community Emergency Response Team website

Puget Sound CERT Program - Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority

The Puget Sound Fire CERT program serves the areas of Covington, Kent, SeaTac/Burien, Maple Valley, Fire District 37, and Fire District 43. Puget Sound residents can make a difference by using the CERT training we offer to save lives and protect property. On a normal day, emergency services personnel are the best trained and equipped to handle emergencies and we all count on them for their expertise. CERT training gives you the skills to help save and sustain lives following a disaster until help arrives. The class meets once a week for eight weeks.

Seattle Community Emergency Response Team program

U.W. CERT Program - University of Washington Emergency Management

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community.

LA Community emergency Response Team Website

L.A. CERT Program - L.A. Fire Department

The LAFD Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Unit provides disaster preparedness training courses throughout the City free of charge, year-round. Training course options range from in-depth multi-week CERT Training to single-day courses on various emergency preparedness topics. Read more about Los Angeles Community Emergency Response Teams on the L.A.F.D. website. CERT members receive 17 1/2 hours (one day a week for seven weeks) of initial training, free of charge within the city of Los Angeles to anyone 18 or over. Classes are taught year-round, Monday-Friday, morning, afternoon, or evening, by an experienced LAFD Firefighter.

San Francisco Community Emergency Response Team

San Francisco NERT Program - San Francisco Fire Department

S.F.'s Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) program is a free training program for individuals, neighborhood groups and community-based organizations in San Francisco.  Through this program, individuals will learn the basics of personal preparedness and prevention.  The training also includes hands-on disaster skills that will help individuals respond to a personal emergency as well as act as members of a neighborhood response team.

South San Francisco Community Emergency Response Team website

South San Francisco CERT Program - City of South San Francisco

The South San Francisco Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program will train individuals in neighborhoods, businesses and industries in emergency preparedness and basic disaster response techniques. The training will enable them, as volunteers, to assist emergency service personnel during a disaster.

In the news...
A selection of recent news articles on The Big One.

OPB Unprepared - Articles about a Mega Quake in the Pacific Northwest

OPB Unprepared - Oregon Public Broadcasting

Articles about preparing for a major earthquake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, where 8.0-9.0 earthquakes occur approximately 5 times every 1000 years. The last one was a 9.0 in 1700, 320 years ago.

A documentary film, also titled Unprepared, is available as well.

Article about The Big One

The Big One: Your Survival Guide - Southern California Public Radio 2018

When The Big One hits it’ll take under two minutes for more than 10 million Southern Californians to lose internet, power, and a sense of security. Host Jacob Margolis and producer Misha Euceph take you on a journey to understand what the catastrophic earthquake will mean for Los Angeles, the U.S. and the world. This is what you need to know to survive.

The Big One is Coming to Portland - Earthquake article

The Big One is Coming. What will Happen to Portland? - Portland Monthly 2/2/2018

Think of Oregon geology as a clock, measuring time in earthquakes—46 major coastal quakes over the last 10,200 years. Tick: a magnitude 8 on the Richter scale. Tock: a magnitude 9. On average, a major quake uncorks in this area every 243 years, the last one on January 26, 1700—318 years ago. Right. We’re overdue.

The Big One Just Got Closer - Earthquake article about the Cascadia Subduction Zone

The Big One Just Got a Little Closer - Portland Monthly 8/5/2016

Researchers at Oregon State, working with Camosun College in British Columbia and Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra in Spain, have found that the average time between massive Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquakes is 50 to 100 years less than previous estimates. The Cascadia Subduction Zone is divided into several sections.  The frequency of quakes for the northern section stretching from Astoria to Vancouver was reduced from 500-540 years to 430 years.

How to Prepare Water for the Cascadia Quake - Earthquake article

How to Prepare Water for the Cascadia Quake - Portland Monthly 9/1/2016

When the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake strikes, everyday life in the Pacific Northwest will change dramatically. Oregon's infrastructure is woefully out of date for the event. It will take a while for supplies to trickle in to those affected. Experts say it could take two weeks. That means you should have your own supply of water ready. The Red Cross recommends 1 gallon of water per person per day. That means you need 14 gallons of water per person.

The Really Big One - Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake article

The Really Big One - New York Times 7/13/2015

An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when. The next full-margin rupture of the Cascadia subduction zone will spell the worst natural disaster in the history of the continent, outside of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Cascadia Subduction Zone FAQs

What is the earthquake risk in my Portland neighborhood?

Portland Maps - earthquake heat map
(Click to go to site)

Portland Maps - City of Portland

This is an interactive site that displays information about Portland neighborhoods. You can pan and scroll to see any neighborhood in the Portland area, or you can enter in an address to see information about that address. The risk of earthquake damage is displayed on a color-coded map, where red indicates high earthquake hazard, orange indicates moderate earthquake hazard, and yellow indicates low earthquake hazard.

For earthquake risk information, enter in an address, scroll down, and click on "Public Safety" to see the earthquake links (Portland Hills and Cascadia faults).

Where can I go in Portland for help after an earthquake?

BEECN site map
(Click to download)

BEECN - Portland Bureau of Emergency Management

Portland maintains Basic Earthquake Emergency Communication Nodes (BEECN) all over the city where people can go for information after a a major earthquake. The BEECN nodes are manned by PBEM volunteers. For more information, go to the PBEM BEECN page.

Our Earthquake Essentials Kit comes with a paper copy. If you don't have one, click the image to download or use the link at the top for more information.

Where can I find interactive earthquake maps for all of Oregon?

Cascadia lifeline program 3D map
(Click to go to site)

Oregon Hazard Explorer - Cascadia Lifelines Program

This excellent OSU interactive map shows different earthquake research data for the state of Oregon, including ground motion, landslide hazard, bridge assessments, liquefaction, and tsunami information.

The different earthquake-related features are displayed on the map in colors via overlay maps, which can be combined. The map shown on the left here shows bridge damage assessments after an earthquake across Oregon.

Click on the orange icons in the top right corner to view options.

GeoHazards viewer -Interactive Oregon earthquake map
(Click to go to site)

Geohazards Viewer - Oregon Dept. of Geology

This interactive map shows different geological hazards across the Pacific Northwest, including earthquake fault lines.

The icons on the top left can be used to select a base map and one or more overlays with information. Try selecting them all (top right of layer widgit) and de-selecting the ones you don't want.

What studies have been done on earthquake risk in the Pacific Northwest?

Oregon Resiliency Plan
(Click to download)

Oregon Resilience Plan - State of Oregon.

The State of Oregon's Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission (OSSPAC) prepared this report in 2013. It's the most comprehensive report on the risk of a major earthquake in Oregon.

Where do gas lines run in my city?

National Pipeline Mapping System
(Click to go to site)

NPMS Public Viewer - National Pipeline Mapping System

This great interactive site will show you where major natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines, LNG plants, and Breakout Tanks throughout any city in the country.

Knowing where these hazards are may help you stay safe after an earthquake, particularly if you have to walk home from somewhere.

Who are the relevant authorities in the Portland area?

Portland Bureau of Emergency Management
(Click to go to site)

PBEM - Portland Bureau of Emergency Management

PBEM is in charge of managing Portland's response to a major disaster. PBEM runs an Emergency Communications Center that will be the shared headquarters and central point of contact for all relevant authorities. PBEM also runs the Neighborhood Emergency Teams (NET), a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program that trains community volunteers as  to help after disasters. Anyone can join, and the training is free.

NETs will play an important role after a major earthquake. Police will be responding to incidents and firefighters will be performing assessment runs to determine damage. NETs will be deployed to help in communities, and will also use radios to communicate assessment information back to PBEM.

Multnomah County Emergency Dept.
(Click to go to site)

MULTCO - Multnomah County Emergency Management Dept.

MULTCO will be responsible for coordinating activities between the other counties in the area, and in particular is responsible for managing shelters after major disasters.

The Emergency Preparedness page of their site has links to other authorities, departments, and websites related to disaster preparedness. It also has information about how to make a play, how to stay informed and/or get involved, tsunamis, landslides, flooding, and caring for animals and livestock.

If you are looking for information about earthquake risk in Portland, this is an excellent place to start.

Cascadia Playbook - Oregon State Earthquake Preparedness study
(Click to download)

Cascadia Playbook - State of Oregon

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management will be coordinating aid with local authorities, and have published an official planned response to a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake that discusses risks and priorities regarding roads, infrastructure, energy, etc.

Oregon Emergency Management response planThe OEM includes detailed information broken down into 9 time periods: 1 hour, 6 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours, 4 days, 7 days, 10 days, and 2 weeks.

It also covers a response phase and a recovery phase, and identifies numerous emergency support functions. It's long, but it's mostly bullet points.

Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization
(Click to go to site)

RDPO - Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization

RDPO is a partnership of government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private-sector stakeholders in the Portland Metropolitan Region collaborating to increase the region’s resilience to disasters.

The mission of the Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization (RDPO) is to build and maintain regional disaster preparedness capabilities in the Portland Metropolitan Region through strategic and coordinated planning, training and exercising, and investment in technology and specialized equipment.

Can Portlanders sign up to be alerted about disasters in the area?

Public Alerts for Portland Community
(Click to sign up)

Public Alerts - publicalerts.org

Public Alerts is an emergency information hub designed to inform people about emergencies occurring locally. Members of the community in Portland and Vancouver can sign up to receive public alerts on their cell phones in regard to local health and safety issues, including disasters and earthquakes.

Information is posted on the site by various authorities, and you can also sign up to receive alerts by text.

Sign up for this!!

Shake Alert - Earthquake alert system
(Click to go to site)

ShakeAlert

ShakeAlert® is an earthquake early warning (EEW) system for the west coast that detects significant earthquakes so quickly that alerts can reach many people before shaking arrives. ShakeAlert is not earthquake prediction, rather a ShakeAlert message indicates that an earthquake has begun and shaking is imminent.

The USGS began the testing of public notification in California in October of 2019 through the Wireless Emergency Alert system (WEA), but it is not yet available in Oregon or Washington. Read more about it here.

Are there earthquake drills I can participate in?

The Great Shake Out earthquake drill
(Click to go to site)

The Great Shake Out

This is a national program, coordinated by state, for anyone to register to participate in a yearly earthquake drill on International Shake-Out Day, always the third Thursday of October. All major authorities and aid organizations participate, and you can too.

Where will I poop if we can't use our toilets?

Emergency Toilet Guidebook
(Click to go Google Docs)

Emergency Toilet Project - Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization

The RDPO has a site with information about how to set up an emergency toilet after a disaster. After an earthquake, sewer lines may be down for many months or even years! It is important that everyone on the city sewer system have a bucket toilet and plenty of liner bags. Human waste will have to be bagged and saved separately from garbage until it can be picked up by local authorities.

Bucket toilets and extra strength liner bags are available from our store.

Where can I learn about infrastructure projects and plans in Oregon?

Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup
(Click to go to site)

CREW - Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup

The Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup has information about regional efforts including early warning systems, planned infrastructural improvements, etc.

How can I get financial assistance after a disaster?

FEMA Disaster Assistance
(Click to go to site)

DisasterAssistance - FEMA

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is the federal agency responsible for administering aid to states and cities after a major disaster such as an earthquake. FEMA runs the DisasterAssistance website, where you can enter in your city, state and/or zip code to determine whether Individual Assistance is available to you.

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