The Pacific Northwest was once thought to be at a low risk for major earthquakes and tsunamis, but new research suggests this is not the case and the region is long overdue for a major one. The Washington state, for example, is unprepared for such an event, which could cause a major humanitarian disaster should it happen over the coming decades, as the scientists anticipate.
According to the researchers, an earthquake between 8.0 and 9.0 in magnitude occurs in Oregon and Washington about every 230 years. The US Geological Survey reported the last one of such strength had happened about 315 years ago, which means the next one could well be on its way.
"The state's current mindset and approach to disaster response is not suitable to a catastrophic scale incident," explained the draft government assessment, according to media reports.
The draft report also recommends Washington's governor should gain expanded emergency authority and plans for shelters and feeding should be devised, as well.
In response to the news, the officials in Washington have organized the so-called "Cascadia Rising", a four-day long exercise, to prepare for the possible event.
The state Emergency Management division suggests $750 000 a year should be invested into urging the residents to have the necessary emergency kits, that would be capable of lasting up to two weeks.
The amount of time which the people could spend in isolation could be twice as long in other areas where roads could be cut off and bridges devastated, such as the Olympic Peninsula.
Featured image: Seattle, Washington, January 7, 2012. Image credit: dannymac15_1999 (Flickr-CC)