Media Room

Cascadia Rising Kickoff
June 7, 2016

Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” 

But when facing the reality of a Cascade Subduction Zone earthquake, success is relative.

The ground will shake for four to six minutes. 

Bridges and buildings will fail. 

Landslides will sweep down hillsides. 

And, in some places, the ground will liquefy. 

Then, a tsunami will inundate the coast with as little as 15 minutes warning.

All this could mean thousands of fatalities, thousands of destroyed homes and buildings, and billions in economic loss. 

This might seem so overwhelming that preparation – by individual Oregonians or their state government – is too big of a task. 

But today I want you all to know, we can do this.

We will do it together, building a better prepared and more resilient Oregon, one step at a time.
Today, we take a major step towards resiliency. 

We are simulating how well the state will react in the first four days after a major earthquake. Fortunately, we have the Cascadia Playbook to guide us, and this exercise allows us to test it in a dynamic and informative way. It gives us a chance to make the necessary refinements so we can be even better prepared to respond.

The Playbook accomplishes three essential functions for state agencies:
First, it lays out assignments for the different players who have a role in emergency response. This will help keep our efforts organized in a time of chaos.
Second, it provides a checklist of immediate actions required by our Emergency Support Function team experts.
Finally, it provides organizational clarity for existing plans developed by local emergency management partners.
The Office of Emergency Management has also worked hard to refine roles once we are able to shift our focus from emergency recovery to the long months that Oregonians will spend working to rebuild our state.

On March 29th, I signed an executive order to create the framework for the Governor’s Disaster Cabinet and the Economic Recovery Council. The Cabinet and Council will assist me with critical decisions during the recovery phase following the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.

I also recognize the importance of a long-term vision for readying Oregon’s infrastructure for a major event, and that is why I’m happy to introduce you to our new Seismic Resilience Officer, Mike Harryman.

Mike will work with my policy advisors, state agencies, and local governments, as well as Oregonians and their families to prioritize and budget for projects that will occur over a long span of time. 

The good news is, there are several projects already underway. Mike will coordinate those myriad efforts and create a comprehensive approach to how Oregon builds seismic safety and resilience planning and preparation in the future. 

This work couldn’t come soon enough. I’m looking forward to the momentum Mike brings to the effort to get our communities prepared.

Individuals and communities should also think about how to tackle preparations incrementally. Oregonians should have emergency plans for their families, and their homes should be stocked with food, water, and all critical items to help them sustain extended periods of time without electricity or plumbing. 

For some, that may mean one big trip to the store. But for others, it may mean picking up one can of food or one gallon of water every week or whenever they can afford to spend a little extra.

In either case, the Office of Emergency Management is enacting a social media campaign designed to help Oregonians prepare to be self-sufficient after a major event.  I encourage Oregonians to follow OEM for posts with suggestions on how to prepare, including a weekly update on getting supplies ready.  

Thanks everyone for joining me today as we take another important step towards readiness and resiliency.