A Rising Stars Assignment (Fake News!)
|Earthquake rocks south coast, tsunami follows
Kevin Mastiff, Newport News Reporter - April 1, 2020
NEWPORT, Ore. - A devastating earthquake measuring 8.3 magnitude struck the southern coast of Oregon on Tuesday night. The United States Geological Survey reported that the epicenter was located approximately 180 miles west of Coos Bay, along the Cascadia Subduction Zone, and began at 8:21 p.m. Several aftershocks were also reported. A tsunami watch was issued by the West Coast & Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska shortly after, and area residents were order to evacuate areas in the tsunami zones.
The largest wave height was under 6 meters, but did cause significant damage to low lying areas, including the Hatfield Marine Science Center and business near the Yaquina Bay. No fatalities have been reported in the Newport area, although several individuals have been reported missing. The death toll from the entire region is not yet known, but preliminary estimates are very high.
"We caught a little bit of a break," said John Sanders, Newport Fire Chief. "It hit in the evening when most businesses were closed and people were still awake." Sanders also reported that numerous injuries had occurred during the earthquake, but the Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital was functioning, and was able to treat all the local cases. The hospital had recently been upgraded to seismic standards, and has water and generator fuel on site. Hospital officials have stated they can continue to function for up to three weeks without additional resources. Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency prompting local and state police to protect food and fuel stores that were not contaminated by flooding. State officials have indicated there is no timetable in place as to when power might be restored to affected areas, nor has an estimate been done as to when highways east to the Willamette valley might be opened for travel. US 101 and State Highway 20 are closed to all traffic including four-wheel drive and all terrain vehicles, except for local and emergency vehicles.
"Fortunately, most of the populated areas of Newport are in low liquefaction and amplification zones," said Calvin Riley, Public Works Director, "But we still have an enormous amount of work in front of us." Recent upgrades to water reservoirs, including seismic shut-off valves, saved over two millions of potable water, according to Riley, but the older pipe systems will not be repaired for some time. Residents are being asked to bring containers to selected sites to receive drinking water, which will be rationed. The public has also been asked not to use toilets connected to the failed city sanitary sewer system. The public works department has stated that using a slit trench on private property is allowable in an emergency, and will keep raw sewage from flowing from broken pipes.
All of the local departments are also hampered by the Oregon Department of Transportation closure of on the Yaquina Bay Bridge on Highway 101 that divides the city. Unfortunately, the emergency management plan developed in 2013 did not address the possibility of damage to the bridge. Since the majority of the watercraft in the area were moored in the bay and took damage, city officials are asking area citizens to make boats available for use by the city crews and citizens.