This is a picture of Willamette Falls, just two miles from my home. It’s one of the largest by volume and width in the United States, 5000 cubic feet per second. After heavy winter rains in Oregon, the river rises very high, and the falls disappear under a violent wave of very fast water.
So a water shortage in our town is impossible, right?
The citizens of West Virginia, downstream of the recent chemical spill, can affirm that. Water quickly became scarce following the spill. No fun to not be able to shower or wash dishes.
As always, it is the unexpected that can catch us off guard.
The 9.0+ Cascadia earthquake which geologists say is inevitable, and which most people in the Northwest would rather ignore, will instantly break most water mains, stop resupply by road and rail throughout the region, and create general havoc.*
In our neighborhood, about seven households have formed an informal alliance to take some basic preparedness steps, using the Map Your Neighborhood program as a guide. We agreed to stock a few essentials in our homes, outfit our cars with the basics, and generally cooperate in case of something unexpected. Some members of the group are very well stocked.
A short quiz!
1. (T/F) After a major earthquake, we’ll still have water pressure.
2. (T/F) All the water my family will need can be drained from our hot water heater.
3. (T/F) Following an earthquake, the government will quickly bring supplies and water to all cities, communities, towns, and neighborhoods.
4. (T/F) You don’t need to keep water in your car, since you can always just drive to a store and buy some.
Answers and comments at Current Updates.
Now for the contest!
Whoever sends me the most interesting preparedness tip (for home, car, or workplace) will receive a nifty Seychelles water filtration bottle, retail $30.
If you want to start small and sensibly, start with water. And remember what Mark Twain said: “Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody.”
* For scenarios of what the earthquake will be like, see the article in Discover Magazine (an excerpt from the book “Cascadia’s Fault” by Jerry Thompson) or search on “Cascadia earthquake.”
And for my 2013 article on “Getting Started,” click here.