Tsunami Evacuation Drill Performed in Newport

NEWPORT, Ore. — Newport hasn’t experienced a serious earthquake and tsunami in more than 300 years.

However, experts say they expect one will be coming some time soon.

So on Wednesday, nearly 200 people in Newport found out exactly where they should go when the time comes.

Emergency coordinators say if a tsunami and earthquake were to hit Newport, the low lying area in Yaquina Bay would be destroyed.  That’s why they say it’s so important to have a plan to get to safety.

“You’re going to be quick or you’re going to be dead is pretty much what it’s going to be,” said Althea Rizzo, Geologic Hazards Program Coordinator, Oregon Emergency Management. “We will have a very large earthquake that will last three to five minutes and then we will have a very large tsunami.

That’s exactly why the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center organized the tsunami evacuation drill for all employees in the south bay area.

“Walking the route is probably the best thing you can do to get prepared for a tsunami because you never know when it’s going to happen,” said Rizzo.

They’ve had drills in the past but never made it all the way, 85 feet up Safe Haven Hill, to safety.

“So this year we wanted our staff to build confidence that they could actually get up to the top of that hill, which is our actual evacuation point,” said Maryann Bozza, OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center.

It was also used as a training tool for local emergency crews.

“It allows us to see if there’s any deficiencies, it allows us to make adjustments, and it’s just good practice,” said Chief Mark Miranda, Newport Police Department.

It was a perfect chance to test out their new emergency messaging system.

After the long trek up hill, participants said the drill was worth every second, considering it could mean the difference between life or death in an actual emergency.

“It gives us an idea where the routes are at, we’re [NOAA] new here now, so the facility’s only been up for a few months so we needed to know what those routes are,” said Larry Wooten, NOAA electronics supervisor.

Although Wednesday’s drill was mainly for employees in the south bay area, emergency coordinators say it is extremely important for all residents, and even visitors, to know where to go in case of an earthquake or tsunami.

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