A huge earthquake is coming for the Pacific Northwest, and almost no one is prepared for it. In a stunning tale from the New Yorker, Kathryn Schulz outlines how coastal communities in Washington and Oregon will fare during the devastating earthquake that has a one-in-ten chance of hitting the region in the next 50 years. In an area called the Cascadia subduction zone, an oceanic plate is trying to slide underneath the continental North American plate, but it’s having a hard time.
The San Andreas is nothing compared to the Cascadia Subduction zone. Essentially almost everything west if I-5 north of california will be underwater.
The earthquake will last more than 4 minutes. And the resulting tsunami might reach 100 feet high.
And perhaps 15,000 people will be dead when it is over. (If it happens during a summer day, thousands more at the beaches will die.) 27,000 more will be injured.
FEMA calculates that, across the region, something on the order of a million buildings—more than three thousand of them schools—will collapse or be compromised in the earthquake. So will half of all highway bridges, fifteen of the seventeen bridges spanning Portland’s two rivers, and two-thirds of railways and airports; also, one-third of all fire stations, half of all police stations, and two-thirds of all hospitals.
No hospitals. No police. And no roads to leave the area.
OSSPAC estimates that in the I-5 corridor it will take between one and three months after the earthquake to restore electricity, a month to a year to restore drinking water and sewer service, six months to a year to restore major highways, and eighteen months to restore health-care facilities. On the coast, those numbers go up. Whoever chooses or has no choice but to stay there will spend three to six months without electricity, one to three years without drinking water and sewage systems, and three or more years without hospitals. Those estimates do not apply to the tsunami-inundation zone, which will remain all but uninhabitable for years.
No electricity. No water.o hospitals. The entire region will become unlivable.
There is 1 in 10 chance this will happen by 2065. It has been 315 years since the last one, indicating it is long overdue.
So when do we get our movie starring the Rock?