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.

Coastal Hazards Resilience in Oregon

Hi! Like Hailey and Amy, I am new fellow. My name is Felicia Olmeta-Schult and I am the Resilience Fellow for Oregon Sea Grant (OSG). I am in this position since the end of January.

Before joining the OSG family, I was a Washington Sea Grant Hershman fellow with the Washington State Department of Ecology. This is where I started working on coastal hazards resilience issues. I helped improving the Washington Coastal Hazards Resilience Network (CHRN) website. I am grateful to be able to bring some of my experience to OSG and to continue to work on such an important issue. I also work on the side for Coastal News Today and the American Shoreline Podcast Network and I will have my own podcast soon!

Before describing my work at OSG, I would like to share a little more about my background. I am from Corsica, France, and I left my Mediterranean island to study oceanography in Hawaii, marine affairs in Rhode Island, and environmental and natural resource sciences in Washington. I received my PhD from Washington State University Vancouver in 2018. My dissertation investigated the North Coast of California Marine Life Protection Act Initiative by studying how Tribes and stakeholders (e.g., commercial fishermen, NGOs, recreational users) interacted and were involved during the marine protected area (MPA) planning process, and how they perceived socio-economic and ecological effects of MPAs.

As the Resilience Fellow, I work with staff at Oregon Sea Grant and other partners to increase the resilience of Oregon communities to the impacts of climate change and chronic (e.g., sea level rise, coastal erosion and flooding) and acute (e.g., earthquakes and tsunamis) coastal natural hazards .

Since the beginning of my position, I contacted and introduced myself to staff at several agencies and organizations (e.g., Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, Coos Watershed Association, Oregon Parks & Recreation, Oregon Partnership for Disaster Resilience, and Oregon Coast Visitors Association). This was a great way for me to have an overview of the work on coastal hazards happening at both the state and local level, and to identify potential work collaborations with these groups. I also had the opportunity to have a guided visit on the Lincoln County coast.

Jay Sennewald, with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), showed me the damages of coastal erosion this past winter. If you go to Hailey Bond’s blog post, you will see more coastal erosion photos and have a very instructive background on coastal erosion control and policy in Oregon.

You will find below photos I took this April in the same area as Hailey in Lincoln County. I think these photos were taken a couple of months after Hailey took hers. You will notice changes at the landslide site in Gleneden Beach and on Salishan spit. This year, a total of 14 houses applied for emergency permits from the OPRD.

This brings me to my projects as a fellow. For one project, I will identify and create a list of coastal hazards mitigation and adaptation projects in Oregon. For example, one of these projects is the construction of a cobble berm and reinforced foredune to protect Cape Lookout State Park from erosion and flooding (see publication). Our goal is to create an interactive map (i.e., StoryMap) allowing users to see where these projects are localized and to learn more about them via short case studies providing information on adaptation strategies, lessons learned, partners, and grants for example. This effort will be similar to the Washington Coastal Hazards Risk Reduction Project Mapper. However, our case studies, in addition to physical projects, will also include programs, academic research, planning efforts, and local initiatives. We hope this resource will be useful to individuals, communities, and local governments to identify practical approaches to coastal hazards and learn from others facing similar issues in Oregon.

Another project I am working on involves tsunami education and preparedness for the hospitality industry. The Oregon Sea Grant Sustainable Coastal Tourism & Outdoor Recreation Program created the Practical Customer Service (PCS) Training to provide the hotel/lodging and coastal visitor-​industry with a short and free online training. In addition, on the coast, it is important to know the facts about tsunamis and how to communicate them to visitors. Therefore, this training integrates practical customer service with scientific information about tsunamis and the basic safety information we all need to know. At the end of the PCS training there is a link to the Oregon Emergency Management’s Tsunami Safe Training. For this project, we are interested in surveying hotel general managers and staff to have their feedback on the PCS and Tsunami Safe trainings. We also want to identify what hotel management cares about and needs to be successful while keeping their employees ready and resilient when a tsunami hits.

As the other OSG Scholars mentioned, it has been challenging to start a new position in the middle of a pandemic. Thanks to the vaccine, I hope that I will get to meet OSG colleagues and partners in-person soon. In the meantime, my two cats have been very happy with my remote working situation!

I will provide updates on my projects in my next blog. Do not hesitate leaving a comment below if you have any questions!

Thank you for reading!