Oregon Coast residents stash tsunami survival kits on high ground

CANNON BEACH, Ore. (AP) — What does one stash for a tsunami? Residents of Cannon Beach are thinking about that.

They're planning to store drums full of survival gear far enough inland and high enough to be safe if the big one hits the Oregon coast and sends a tsunami wave ashore.

The Daily Astorian reports
the city is offering residents space in a shipping container and various sizes of drums, barrels and buckets that can be stored inside.

Cannon Beach held a workshop on how to pack for the days after the big one, the equivalent of last year's Japanese earthquake that could send a deadly tsunami across West Coast beaches and flood coastal towns.

Essential items would include a shelter, such as a tent or tarp; sleeping bags or blankets; food with a long shelf life, such as ready-to-eat meals or canned goods, and a can opener; a basic first-aid kit, either pre-assembled or one containing personal medical items; a survival knife; axe or hatchet; garden trowel or folding shovel; flashlights with extra batteries; matches or lighter with a fire starter; water purification; and bottles or canteens for water storage.

"We're encouraging people not to turn this into a big to-do," said City Council member Sam Steidel. "Most things they will need they can find at rummage sales, or they could be surplus stuff they find around the house that they're not using all the time."

"I have packed my barrel with enough things for a two-person camp," said Steidel, who participates in Civil War re-enactments. "The things are pretty much up-to-date items that are in the re-enactment trailer. A simple pot or Dutch oven is all you really need to cook with. Just about everyone has an old cast iron fry pan."

Cannon Beach is a popular tourist destination on the north Oregon coast, at the other end of a highway from Portland. It's also known for thinking hard and creatively about tsunamis — something critics say has been lacking along the West Coast.

A few years ago, Cannon Beach looked at the idea of rebuilding City Hall on stilts to provide refuge for people fleeing a tsunami. Computer modeling showed that the location wasn't the best, and a study of alternative ideas continues.

Recently, state and federal officials said they plan to use Cannon Beach in a pilot study of how landscape and a town's demographics affect how long it takes for people to flee a tsunami.

For the storage exercise, the city is preparing a 2,000-square-foot pad for at least one, and perhaps two shipping containers, each 20 feet long, 8 feet wide and 8 feet high. The pad is inland, east of the coastal highway, and planned for an elevation above the expected inundation level.

Each shipping container could hold at least 50 of the largest containers offered, those of 55-gallon capacity, Steidel said.

There also are 30-gallon plastic barrels and five-gallon buckets.

In October, the shipping container is to be opened for families to store their emergency stashes. Unless there's a disaster, the container wouldn't be reopened until spring, when the caches could be restocked.

Earlier this year, 53 people at a forum signed up for the small containers, and orders are being accepted for more. City officials said some families are buying more than one.

In addition to a purchase fee, the city is charging an annual maintenance fee based on capacity. A 55-gallon plastic barrel costs $57.90, and the annual fee is $55.


Information from: The Daily Astorian, http://www.dailyastorian.com

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press