Emergency readiness focus of Bonamici visit

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici was in Cannon Beach to learn about that community's tsunami early warning system.

For a second time in two weeks, U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici was in Seaside, this time for a town hall meeting with constituents to discuss issues and field questions.

In an earlier visit, Bonamici, D-Oregon, visited Providence ElderPlace in Seaside on July 22, where she met program participants and shared her views on elder care, a new mental health initiative and community programs with Providence staff.

Her hour-long town hall in late July attended by about 40 people at the South County Campus of Clatsop Community College followed a visit to the Cannon Beach Fire Department earlier in the afternoon. While Bonamici touched on a variety of hot-button issues, including education, housing, seniors, jobs and healthcare, improving emergency warning systems on the north Oregon coast was the primary focus of her visit.

Bonamici and Cannon Beach public officials met to discuss tsunami early warning systems and how to best communicate emergencies to residents.

“Cannon Beach is a great example,” Bonamici said. “I really like the creative solution of having people store their things out of the tsunami zone. I appreciate the partnerships and the local, state and federal folks working together because we want people to be prepared and we don’t want to discourage people from coming over to the coast.”

Leland O’Driscoll, University of Oregon earthquake project manager and seismic field technician, explained the early warning system used to detect earthquakes’ size and magnitude through a network of seismic sensors.

This system would be more available by 2018, O’Driscoll said.

The group also listened to the “mooing cows” emergency test warning system, spearheaded by former Cannon Beach fire board president Al Aya. “It’s really fun to go downtown on a day like today,” fire board director Garry Smith said.

“We turned it into a marketing tool rather than fear,” Public Works Director Dan Grassick said. “Our next phase is to take a serious look at survival and where we will put people post-tsunami.”

Bonamici said she is still working to get the Tsunami Warning, Education and Research Act “over the finish line.”

Currently, Cannon Beach has eight sirens, but the fire board eventually hopes to install more alarms in the southern end of Cannon Beach and Arch Cape.

“It took us a long time to convince people, don’t be scared,” said Cannon Beach Mayor Sam Steidel. “Be educated.”

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