Washington faces the second highest risk from earthquakes, and one of
our nation’s highest risks for tsunamis, yet we remain the only west coast
state that does not have a seismic hazard inventory for critical infrastructure.
That’s not all: many communities along our coast have either outdated tsunami
inundation maps — or no maps at all.
The stakes are huge. A Cascadia subduction zone earthquake and tsunami would cause more than $50 billion in damages and more than 10,000 deaths in Washington
state – and those are 2010 estimates.
That’s why I’ve asked the Legislature to provide DNR with $543,200 for FY2019 and an ongoing appropriation of $493,200 to hire two geologists and one IT technician to identify and map earthquake and tsunami hazards.
With this additional staff on board DNR will be able to produce:
- Tsunami and earthquake hazard maps;
- An inventory of the geologic risks to critical infrastructure like
ports, schools and hospitals; (this will take 10 years of only one staff member is added and will not happen if no funding is appropriated);
- Critical information for emergency responders to build quick
- Reliable data for city and county planners to use in zoning
- Tsunami evacuation maps for all coastal communities; and
- Public education tools for geologic hazards.
We don’t know when the next Cascadia subduction zone earthquake and tsunami will occur but one thing is certain: it will happen again. For a modest investment now, we can help the people of Washington become far better prepared for the next major disaster.
by Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands, @CommissionerHilaryFranz
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