Tool to increase coastal hazards preparedness in Oregon

I mentioned in my last blog post that I was working on the development of a tool – a library and mapper of case studies on coastal hazards preparedness in Oregon – similar to the Washington Coastal Hazards Risk Reduction Project Mapper.

This tool will compile and geographically display case studies on alternatives to traditional shoreline armoring (e.g., nature-based designs) and on practical approaches to acute and chronic coastal hazards (e.g., tsunami caches). There, individuals, communities, and tribal and local governments will be able to share their work and learn from each other. I created a list of existing projects and approaches, and I am drafting case studies for the mapper. I also started using the ArcGIS Online StoryMap app to design a mock-up of this future tool.

I would like to clarify that nature-based or soft shoreline armoring aiming to reduce coastal erosion and flooding are not a panacea, and are specific to the local environment (natural and man-made) where they would be located. Resources, capacity, and political and community leadership will also often influence and determine the design and implementation of a project.

In this blog I will introduce you to three local programs and initiatives aiming to increase tsunami preparedness, and one project that used nature-based approaches for shoreline protection to erosion (I briefly mentioned this one in my last post). These case studies will be part of the mapper.

  1. The Emergency Volunteer Corps of Nehalem Bay (EVCNB)

EVCNB is a non-profit organization dedicated to building personal, community and regional resilience, developing programs to ensure readiness, and promoting a culture of emergency preparedness. EVCNB was founded and is run by local community volunteers.

EVCNB was formed in February 2008 following a storm that brought hurricane-force winds, flooding, and a total power outage to the north Oregon Coast, temporarily isolating the three small communities and surrounding areas of Manzanita, Nehalem and Wheeler. Therefore, EVCNB found it critical to have their community members be trained and prepared to respond in a self-sufficient manner.

To learn more about EVCNB, go to

2. City of Rockaway Beach, Tsunami Resilience Planning Project, Tillamook County, Oregon

The geography, older infrastructure, and human settlement patterns in Rockaway Beach have created challenges for timely evacuation from a local tsunami. Coastal lakes, non-retrofitted bridges, manufactured homes, residents over 65 years of age, and visitors who tend to stay close to the ocean all create evacuation concerns for the city.

The City of Rockaway Beach undertook a risk-based and community-specific approach to tsunami resilience planning, which resulted in a Tsunami Hazard Overlay Zone and a Tsunami Evacuation Facilities Improvement Plan (TEFIP), both of which were adopted into the Rockaway Beach Zoning Ordinance through a plan amendment process.

You can read the Rockaway Beach TEFIP Planning Commission Draft (April 2019) here.

3. City of Seaside, Tsunami Supply Barrel Program, Clatsop County, Oregon

The City of Seaside provides emergency supply caches in high ground areas throughout the city.  The supplies are stored in preparation for the aftermath of a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami or other major disaster.  In 2013, with the help of state and federal grant funding and dedicated volunteers, the City filled 119 supply barrels (50-gallon recycled corn syrup barrel) with medical supplies, water purification systems, emergency rations, tarps and radios. Each barrel has enough supplies to last 20 individuals for at least 3 days. They are stored in private residences above the inundation zone in all five evacuation assembly areas throughout Seaside, and will be placed on the curb in the event of a tsunami.  In the summer of 2020, the city restocked the barrels with fresh food, water purification tablets, batteries and medical supplies.

You can find more information about the Tsunami Supply Barrel program here. If you are interested in creating your own community tsunami cache, information can be found in ‘Earthquake and Tsunami Community Disaster Cache Planning Guide,’ a report prepared for the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries and the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.

4. Cape Lookout State Park (CLSP) dynamic revetment, south end of Netarts Spit, north of the Cape Lookout headland, Tillamook county, Oregon

The Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department, in partnership with Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, constructed in 2000 a dynamic revetment or cobble berm and artificial dune in response to extensive erosion of the primary dune, which separates the beach from a campground located immediately landward of the eroding dune. State Park’s officials rejected the idea of a “hard” structure in the Park, a high mound of rocks between the campground and the recreational beach.

Gravel was extracted from the natural cobble beach in areas where it was believed that more than sufficient volumes were present to protect the dunes and where no park infrastructure was present. The artificial dune was overlaid with a jute coconut fiber cloth, on which native grasses were planted. The sand for the reconstructed dune came from an area south of the park, where there had been problems with sand blowing onto the roadway.

Since its construction in 2000, the CLSP structure has withstood multiple large Pacific Northwest winter storms. However, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) has had to add additional cobbles to the dynamic revetment at least three times in the decade following the project completion.

The choice of a cobble berm backed by an artificial dune for shore-protection in the eroding state park proved to be cost effective, the expense being a small fraction of what it would have cost to construct a revetment or seawall. The construction was also simpler than that of a conventional revetment, and the material used more readily available than armor stones. In addition, the completed cobble berm and artificial dune are nearly indistinguishable from their natural counterparts on the Oregon coast, such that the visitors have little or no notion that these are in fact shore protection structures.

If you want to learn more about this project, read the report ‘Design with Nature” Strategies for Shore Protection: The Construction of a Cobble Berm and Artificial Dune in an Oregon State Park’ written by Paul Kolmar, Oregon State University, and Jonathan Allan, Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

We need your help!

Do you know of projects, programs, initiatives, and research in your area I could add as case studies in this mapper? If you do, please contact me at I am also looking for any existing projects and initiatives taken by individual homeowners/landowners.

Other work

Regarding my other tasks for the fellowship, I completed the design of the training needs assessment survey for the lodging industry and I am currently piloting the survey. This needs assessment asks questions about overall training needs and logistics, but mostly focuses on two trainings: the new OSG free online 30-minute Practical Customer Service Training, and the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) free online 30-minute Tsunami Safe Training. I aim to distribute this survey in the coming month. We waited for the busy summer season to be over so hotel managers would have more time available to complete the survey.

We are taking small steps with this project and decided to start with Curry County and the City of Seaside before expanding it coastwide. We may also expand this survey to other sectors in the hospitality industry.

I also continue my efforts in reaching out to tribal, state and federal agency staff, university researchers and staff, local government staff, and hotels to let them know about the Oregon Mapper and the lodging industry needs assessment projects, and to discuss their needs and how OSG could support them. So far, I had Zoom, phone, and email exchanges with a little over 50 people across Oregon State and a couple in Washington State.

I hope you enjoyed reading about this brief update on my main two projects! Do not hesitate contacting me at if you have any questions and suggestions.

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