Several projects are underway to prepare residents and visitors for a tsunami, which scientists say occurs about every 300 years; the last time a tsunami washed over the North Coast was in 1700.
For the third year in a row, the Cannon Beach Community Church is leading a series of community walks along several of the evacuation routes, led once again by church volunteer Jenee Pearce-Mushen.
Held on the second Saturday of the month from August through December at 10:30 a.m., all of the walks begin in the Cannon Beach City Hall parking lot, where Pearce-Mushen will give participants instructions.
After everyone has walked the route and gathered at the nearest assembly points above the tsunami inundation line, they will discuss evacuation strategies and the importance of the city’s three cache container sites, where some locals have stored barrels of survival gear and supplies.
Each walk should take less than 20 minutes, Pearce-Mushen said.
“One of the things that we are definitely pushing this year: We want to make sure we time ourselves,” she said. “We’re doing these walks as fast as we can.”
The next walk, on Sept. 13, will follow evacuation route No. 8 in mid-Tolovana. Participants are encouraged to bring their backpacks, children and pets.
The city’s Emergency Preparedness Committee also is busily shoring up preparations for the “Big One.”
With two-thirds of Cannon Beach’s homes belonging to second homeowners, these part-time residents may never get a chance see all of the tsunami-related information that year-round residents do.
Beginning in his own neighborhood on the north end of town, committee member Les Wierson hopes to start hanging on door knobs little green bags containing a map of that area’s pedestrian evacuation route; an index of the city’s nine other evacuation routes; the latest city-wide tsunami map from the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries; information on the city’s cache sites; and a message from Mayor Mike Morgan about the need for more safe-house volunteers.
Wierson and the committee are working out how “Bags on Door Knobs” materials can be distributed to 800 homes throughout Cannon Beach and possibly Arch Cape. All 10 evacuation route maps will be available soon on the city’s website, Wierson said.
Eight new green signs with an “S” on them may soon go up at different safe elevation points along the city’s evacuation routes, mainly in the north end, in Tolovana and in Haystack Heights, Wierson said.
They signify spots where it is safe for evacuees to rest for a moment before moving on toward the nearest assembly points and, from there, to one of the city’s three cache containers on Old Cannon Beach Road, Elk Creek Road or the Tolovana Mainline.
The committee also has discussed adding a “you are here”-type decal to each of the 40-plus metal evacuation signs scattered throughout the city, letting observers know exactly where they in relation to the tsunami inundation lines.
In addition, at the next committee meeting, Wierson plans to bring some suggestions for improving the evacuation routes inspired by a recent wayfinding charrette, a two-day seminar held in Astoria in August.
Wierson likes the idea of using blue reflector trail markers on metal signs at key locations to improve the signs’ visibility night and day. He would also like the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to install a green speed bump or a green line on Hemlock Street’s S-curves coupled with a standard highway sign saying that reads “Entering Tsunami Zone.”