The Big One - What Gorge Residents Should Know About a Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake


Suzanne Burd
Community Education Coordinator/RET Program Coordinator, (541) 506-6123

April 3, 2017

It’s now widely known that the Pacific Northwest is overdue for a major earthquake originating off the Oregon or Washington coast.

Columbia Gorge Community College in partnership with Hood River County Emergency Management invites you to learn how to prepare with two “emergency preparedness fairs” scheduled April 19 and 20 in The Dalles and Hood River. Registrations are invited by organizations wishing to present information or services at these two events, which are co-sponsored by NW Natural.

Scientists from the US Geological Survey and Oregon and Washington emergency agencies believe the greatest impact from a magnitude 8.0 or 9.0 Cascadia subduction earthquake would stretch from the coast inland to the western Cascades, along the I-5 corridor. Depending upon which sections of the subduction zone are involved, severe disruption could range from Northern California to Canada.

The Columbia Gorge is not immune. Landslides could shut down travel and vital services for an extended period. Also, areas east of the Cascades including The Dalles will be places of refuge for earthquake survivors displaced from cities closer to the epicenter. Cascadia earthquakes occur roughly every 300 to 500 years. The most recent quake occurred on Jan. 26, 1700; the precise date is known because of tsunami damage recorded in Japan.

Geologists calculate the odds of the "Big One" occurring in the next 50 years at roughly one in three. Forty-five years ago, no one even knew this earthquake risk existed.

Althea Rizzo, Geologic Hazards Program Coordinator for Oregon Emergency Management, will offer a riveting presentation on the “Big One” and how our communities, businesses and home owners can prepare. How seriously you and your community are affected and how quickly you recover depends largely upon what you know and how well you prepare.

Representatives from the emergency preparedness community will have informational booths and answer questions, including Wasco County 911, Wasco County Search and Rescue, Mid Columbia Fire and Rescue, Stockpile Survival, Wasco County Hazards Mitigation, North Central Public Health, Klickitat Valley Health, and Lifeflight.  Hood River representation includes Hood River County Emergency Management, Hood River County Sheriff, Hood River County Health Department, Hood River County Public Works, Hood River Fire Department, Westside Fire, Second Wind, Crag Rats, and Oregon State Fire Marshall. OSU Extension and NW Natural will have informational booths at both events.

Two events are planned, on April 19 in the Fort Dalles Readiness Center, and April 20 at Rockford Grange in Hood River. Doors open at both events at 5 p.m., with the presentation beginning at 6:00.

Delicious refreshments catered by Fresh Start Culinary Arts Program and a no-host bar will be available at each location.  A $10 donation will be encouraged.

If you’d like to be involved or register for booth space, please contact Suzanne Burd, community education coordinator at Columbia Gorge Community College, (541) 506-6123.