The state and Cannon Beach City Manager Mike Myers want the coastal community to be ready with two weeks of supplies on-hand should a disaster occur. It was this concern that Myers brought to the Cannon Beach City Council work session April 9.
“It used to be that people said be ready for 24 hours, then 72. Now it’s more like two weeks, or even more for a large event,” said Myers in a follow up interview.
In a community of mostly residents that’s possible, but in a community that has a large proportion of visitors, that is a daunting task.
“Most visitors aren’t even ready for 24 hours,” said Myers.
He outlined some of the dangers the region is facing in a presentation to the council including natural gas leaks and fires, statewide fuel rationing, and food and water shortages. A large part of volunteer and staff time will be spent coordinating rescue and managing shelters with the resources and people that are available at the time of the event.
And there are other problems that Myers wanted the council to consider. It’s not uncommon among many coastal cities to have critical infrastructure in the inundation zone, and Cannon Beach is no exception. While a building can be engineered to withstand an extremely large earthquake and tsunami, the debris field after the event limits access. The building could survive but staff would still need to evacuate, effectively making the building useless.
For this reason, Myers supports not rebuilding any critical infrastructure in the inundation zone, including the proposed new city hall and associated emergency operations center. For Myers, it’s not critical that the committee be at the City Hall and he suggested that the public works yard could also serve the purpose and the services could be decentralized.
But there are some positive strides the city is making for emergency preparedness. Myers is impressed with the way the city is currently managing the infrastructure.
“I know how they manage the water, we have isolation valves everywhere. The infrastructure is sound. They do a great job of keeping it up. A wind storm like 2007 could take the power out again but the utilities have done a lot,” Myers said.
He lauded the Medical Reserve Corps and the Emergency response team, and said that Cannon Beach’s large cache site also add to the regional resiliency.
Although the presentation focused on resiliency, Myers is also working with the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries to better understand slide potential which don’t have to come with earthquakes.
“We have little slides all the time,” Myers said, adding extreme weather to the many things he’s preparing the City for.
The biggest takeaway Myers emphasized, being prepared in the case of a large event.
“If we are isolated people need to understand what that means. If you run out of fuel, it’s a minimum of two weeks, probably longer, before anyone will get to us. The tools, equipment and infrastructure we have on hand during an emergency is what we’ll have to respond to that emergency, ” Myers said.
The most important factor, according to Myers, is having good friends and neighbors, and knowing what they need.