SEASIDE – Scientists agree that the “big one” — an earthquake reaching magnitude 9.0 or higher — has a 10 to 15 percent chance of striking somewhere off the U.S. west coast in the Cascadia Subduction Zone within the next 50 years. Fifteen to 20 minutes later, a tsunami will move in and drown many coastal communities.
Geologists consider the town of Seaside – much of which sits at sea level – “the highest-risk community on the Oregon coast,” said Yumei Wang, a geotechnical engineer at the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.
Little wonder that earthquake and tsunami preparedness is one of the Seaside School District’s main selling points for bond measure 4-168, which would fund a new $128.8 million K-12 campus to be built in the wooded hills east of Seaside Heights Elementary School. In the event of a natural catastrophe, the building housing the schools would double as an emergency shelter for the community.
These two concerns — a new learning environment for schools above the 80-foot tsunami inundation zone and the need for a refuge from a Japanese-style disaster — are the basis for SAFE (Support a Future for Education), a political action committee formed to generate support for the bond.