If the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami were to happen tomorrow, no one could accuse the city of Cannon Beach of having lived in denial.
“People don’t think of earthquakes because they don’t happen very often,” said Cory Grogan, public information officer at the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. “But the reality is, it’s going to happen. It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ it’s a matter of ‘when.’”
To highlight the city’s achievements in raising tsunami awareness — and to promote Cannon Beach as a model of disaster preparedness during National Preparedness Month — several emergency management agencies are collaborating with local volunteers on a five-kilometer hazard-themed fun run called “Race the Wave.”
A fundraiser for the Cannon Beach Preschool & Children’s Center, the inaugural event, to be held in Cannon Beach Sunday, Sept. 28, will follow one of Cannon Beach’s midtown tsunami evacuation routes and end at one of the city’s three cache containers, where the community will host a preparedness fair with interactive booths.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity for Cannon Beach to showcase how well they have prepared their community and their visitors,” said Erin Ward, a public relations officer with the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region X. The region covers Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska.
The race will begin at 9 a.m. on the beach near Tolovana Park and head north past Haystack Rock. The runners and walkers will turn east onto East Gower Street, continue past Cannon Beach City Hall and veer south down a pedestrian path past the Cannon Beach fire station. At Sunset Boulevard, the route will go under the U.S. Highway 101 overpass, eventually connect with Elk Creek Road and end at the two shipping containers full of emergency supplies.
Once at the finish line, runners can learn more about tsunami survival and community resilience at the preparedness fair, hosted by the city’s emergency preparedness committee, where participants will receive bags of materials designed to prepare for emergencies.
FEMA Region X and the Oregon Office of Emergency Management — the two agencies that devised “Race the Wave — along with the American Red Cross, the Oregon National Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies will have representatives at the cache site.
The fair, scheduled to last until 1 p.m., will “be tight, and it’ll be confusing, and it’ll be very realistic” to the kind of commotion one would witness during an actual tsunami evacuation, said Sam Steidel, an emergency preparedness committee member.
The Sunset Empire Transportation District will provide free shuttle service for the participants from the RV Park back to Tolovana.
Because the children’s center has experience with throwing fun runs (like its annual Rock the Beach event), former City Manager Rich Mays suggested to FEMA and the OEM that the children’s center organize the race, according to Barb Knop, president of the children’s center board.
“It’s growing into a much bigger event than I think any of us anticipated when we first started talking,” she said. “We’re hoping for 200 racers.”
Registration costs $30 and is allowed up until the morning of the race, though preregistration is strongly encouraged so that the children’s center can order enough T-shirts.
For more information, visit www.active.com/cannon-beach-or/running/distance-running-races/race-the-wave-5k-2014.