As emergency management agencies across the country observe National Preparedness Month, emergency responders from near and far gathered in Blue Lake this week to talk about a threat that has long loomed over the North Coast: the Cascadia Subduction Zone.
Nearly 70 individuals representing local, state, tribal and federal agencies took part in the Cascadia TsunamiCon, a two-day preparedness training focused on the impacts Humboldt County would see resulting from a significant rupture of the 600-mile-long Cascadia fault, and the tsunami that would follow. This week’s training, which was hosted by the Blue Lake Rancheria and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services (OES), featured speakers from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), the Redwood Coast Tsunami Workgroup, the National Tribal Emergency Management Council, FEMA and Cal Poly Humboldt.
“Education and awareness are fundamental to saving lives,” said Yvette LaDuke, program manager with Cal OES. LaDuke, who works for the state’s Earthquake, Tsunami and Volcano Program, presented at Cascadia TsunamiCon about the ways in which individuals, families, neighborhoods, businesses and government officials can work together to prepare and reduce the devastating effects of tsunamis.
Following a day of instruction, participants were able to put the knowledge to action- undergoing a half-day drill simulating a series of scenarios intended to mimic some of the catastrophic impacts of a Cascadia event.
“A big component of emergency management is getting to know our partners prior to an incident through joint trainings and exercises in order to better understand each other’s response capabilities and gaps,” Humboldt County OES Emergency Manager Ryan Derby said. “While a Cascadia event is inevitable, local measures taken to prepare and collaborate with our public safety partners ahead of time helps create a safer and more resilient community.”
This year’s Cascadia TsunamiCon comes after a four-year hiatus and is the result of extensive collaboration between OES and partner agencies, as well as the generosity of the Blue Lake Rancheria to host and fund this important training through their Resiliency Training & Innovation Center (RTIC).
“Preparedness training for any community is critically important, even for our emergency responders,” said Anita Huff, director of the Blue Lake Rancheria’s Office of Emergency Services. “Holding events like Cascadia TsunamiCon provides opportunities for education, networking, and partnership among the many responders and jurisdictions that will need to come together for an effective disaster response.”
Cascadia TsunamiCon comes ahead of the Great California Shakeout, a state-wide community earthquake drill which takes place October 20. As part of the Shakeout, community members are encouraged to “drop, cover, and hold on,” practicing the recommended safety actions to take during an earthquake. During the drill, Humboldt County OES will be conducting a test of Humboldt Alert, the county’s emergency notification system. Residents are encouraged to sign up for alerts ahead of this test at humboldtgov.org/alerts.
To learn more about earthquake and tsunami preparedness, visit: https://rctwg.humboldt.edu.