Oregon Jurisdictions Bolster Tsunami Resilience

The Takeaway: Ten jurisdictions have lessened risks to life and property, with the help of Oregon’s coastal zone management 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. Ten jurisdictions have lessened risks to life and property, thanks to grants, a land-use guide, and early risk-reduction outreach administered by the Oregon Coastal Management Program.

The jurisdictions include Coos County, Douglas County, and Tillamook County as well as the cities of Florence, Gearhart, Newport, North Bend, Port Orford, Reedsport, and Rockaway Beach.

All 10 jurisdictions have now adopted tsunami hazard overlay zones into their land-use planning programs. Regulations limit development of critical facilities within tsunami inundation zones, require evacuation improvements into development designs, and offer flexible options to people who want to make their development designs even more tsunami-resilient. Five of those jurisdictions also have comprehensive tsunami evacuation facility improvement plans, while three more are in progress. The coastal program collaborated closely with each community 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/Updated 2019 and 2020)

Partners: City of Florence, City of Gearhart, City of Newport, City of North Bend, City of Port Orford, City of Reedsport, City of Rockaway Beach, Coos County, Douglas County, Tillamook County, NOAA Office for Coastal Management, Oregon Coastal Management Program, and Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries