The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

The Student News Site of Oregon State University

The Daily Barometer

OSU receives grant to prepare coastal communities for disaster

OMN Creative Team

Coastal Oregon communities will receive disaster preparedness training from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s $160K Sea Grant to Oregon State University, as well as an innovative earthquake detection device.

According to Tracy Crews, grant lead and manager of Oregon Sea Grant’s Marine Education Program, the grant will include the creation of a solar-powered device that will detect major earthquakes with an attached accelerometer. The device will also serve as a beacon with a loudspeaker system that will play a recorded message in Spanish and English, which will lead locals and tourists to cache sites.

“Two OSU Engineering students will work with the (Hatfield Marine Science Center) Innovation Lab staff in the first year of the grant to spec out, produce, test and refine the device before deploying it in year two, on actual community caches, to field test and further refine the design,” Crews said.

According to Crews, the device could be scaled up for broad distribution, which will increase survivability and preparedness for coastal communities.

The grant will mainly focus on tsunamis and earthquakes that are expected to hit Oregon’s coast.

According to the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development website, smaller earthquakes and tsunamis are likely to occur along the subduction zone, specifically along the Oregon or northern California coast. In terms of large-scale tsunamis, there is about a 16-22% chance of a full margin rupture along the Cascadia Subduction Zone in the next 50 years.

“I haven’t personally experienced any disasters, but I am aware of the high risks in my area,” said Zaidee Quinn, an incoming freshman at OSU from Coos Bay. “I have taken science classes that focus on preparedness for natural disasters, but no, I don’t think my family or community would be completely prepared.”

Given the large population of retirees that come from other areas and the influx of tourists, community preparedness at any given time is relatively low, according to Crews.

“It’s not common knowledge on what to do when the situation becomes real. I think it’s primarily just kids who’ve grown up on the coast that know because it’s been talked about in schools and we do drills,” said Layne Phillips, an incoming OSU freshman from Newport.

The Oregon Sea Grant aims to change this and increase overall education in coastal communities for locals and residents.

“The intent is to create a culture of situational awareness and increase both personal and community preparedness,” said Crews.

The grant will focus on working with residents of coastal communities to create Tsunami Quests and partnering with organizations, such as emergency preparedness committees and community response teams, to host community Prepare Fairs.

“Through a clue-directed hunt, the Quest leads participants along a tsunami evacuation route, drawing their attention to signage and landscape features that might otherwise go unnoticed,” said Crews.

According to Crews, OSU students will be responsible for helping to educate coastal communities at Prepare Fairs.

The Prepare Fairs will feature a variety of activities that will help educate locals and visitors on how to prepare for natural disasters, such as tsunamis, earthquakes, wildfires, winter storms and flooding.

These activities include building go-bag workshops, emergency alert signups, tsunami evacuation hikes, “Map your Neighborhood Sessions” and educational presentations, according to Crews.

“A huge concern is tourism,” said Phillips. “Not many people really understand what to do if an earthquake or tsunami hits.”

According to Crews, the events covered by the Sea Grant will be marketed to the tourism industry, visitors and residents, to increase awareness about coastal disasters and ensure optimum disaster preparedness.

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