When something bad happens (celebrity disease, a J-Lo divorce, a tsunami), a large of portion of humanity loses their collective minds in an effort to jump on the Disaster Band Wagon. A recent article in the Charlotte Observer, titled “Northwest Not Prepared to Survive Tsunami” described how the town of Cannon Beach, Oregon, is not adequately prepared to survive an earthquake-created tsunami, much like the one that devastated Japan in March. Seriously? Let the countdown to moronic begin…
Doomsayers are never wrong… eventually!
The article goes on to say that “Scientists say it’s inevitable that the offshore seismic menace (called the Cascadia Subduction Zone) will ONE DAY unleash a megaquake.” Well… duh. Eventually, the sun will burn out. Not very likely it’s going to happen on my watch, but hey! you never know.
“Jay Raskin, former city council member [of Cannon Beach] is terrified of the prospect” of a Japanese-like tsunami. So much so, he has proposed REBUILDING the seismically unsound City Hall with a NEW two story one… wait for it… “on stilts”. And there it is. The first floor would be offices, the second floor would be… and again it comes… “a terrace”. This terrace would be a refuge for about 1500 people should the Big One hit. Even according to Jay, this would add to the $4 million budget for a new courthouse.
Panic in the Post Apocalyptic Flooded Streets
Get out your keys, Stinky. We are headed to The Bank of Scientific Fact to cash our Reality Checks! I will be the first to admit that I am not a seismologist, but even I can do some simple math.
- STUPID QUESTION #1 – If a country with the budget, resources and technology of a super power like Japan can’t withstand one of nature’s greatest weapons, what makes the town of Cannon Beach (total population: 1,600) think they have a chance?
- FUN FACT #1 – In the last 10,000 years there have only been about 20 earthquakes like the one that hammered Japan. TEN THOUSAND YEARS. By my public education math, that means we only average about 1 megaquake every 500 years.
- STUPID QUESTION #2 – Does Jay expect the new courthouse to last that long? Even if the current courthouse was built when the Northwest was settled, that means it can only be a couple of hundred years old, and already it needs replaced? A $4 million courthouse? For a town of 1,600?
- STUPID QUESTION #3 – Does Cannon Beach really think they have the capabilities to build a stilted courthouse (with terrace) that will protect them from the raging 60 foot tidal wave traveling at the speed of an airliner? And the earthquake that caused it? And the elements? (It’s been know to rain a bit in the Northwest.) For whatever amount of time it takes for FEMA to come rescue them?
- STUPID QUESTION #4 – Let’s pretend that the proposed courthouse terrace will shelter 1,500 as predicted. Who will chose the other 100 residents who don’t get to come up. And the… wait for it one more time… cross section of the 750,000 tourists that pass through Cannon Beach in a given year. Who tells them they can’t join the party on the terrace? Jay? You there?
- FUN FACT #2 – There are 13 million people west of the Cascade Range. It might get a tad crowded on top of the ONLY building designed to withstand a megaquake and a tsunami. Even if it is 400 years from now.
- STUPID SUGGESTION #1 – Let’s take the $4 million, divide it amongst the 1500 survivors [=$2667 each ] (the other 100 and the tourists are on their own!), give them a waterproof survival pack, a surf board, a major party, and about $500 in cash. That makes as about as much sense as planning for a disaster that may never happen in the next 10 generations.
- STUPID QUESTION #5 –Why would the CHARLOTTE Observer think the preparedness of a town (the size of one of our schools) would be of page 2 interest to Charlotteans 3,000 miles away?
It Could Happen!
I could be wrong. There could come a day when I am driving through the [village] of Cannon Beach, see a 60 foot wave hurtling toward me and say, “Boy. Don’t I feel stupid!” or “Wish I was on a stilted terrace right now!” However silly that scenario sounds, it makes about as much sense as panic-driven Jay pushing for a $4 million dollar renovation to elevate his pet courthouse to tsunami-proof it.
These tsunamis and earthquakes have been so rare, that until recently, scientists haven’t been unable to generate stats about them, due to the fact that they happened only before recorded scientific history. The most recent one was about 300 years ago… in Japan. Totally destroyed a fishing village, not much smaller than Cannon Beach. Take into the rarity, the odds of a tsunami or megaquake targeting specifically Cannon Beach, and I would say Jay’s great-great-great-great grandchildren will probably be able to sleep soundly at night without their ancestor spending the other 1600 residents tax dollars.
File Under: “While We’re At It”
But I agree with the doomsayers. Bad things WILL happen. Sea-level cities will flood during hurricanes. Tornadoes will destroy mobile homes. Lebron did move to Miami. The problem is with these pundits of disaster is they get too myopic. They think too small. They only focus on the Disaster Du Jour. Tomorrow there will be a blizzard in Anchorage. Hundreds of baby seal puppies will perish. We must spend our tax dollars to stop this insanity! These guys are just not thinking Big Picture: Prepare for ALL emergencies. Especially the unlikely ones.
- Asteroid Defense Program – Detect, Divert, Destroy. Nuclear, Laser, Whatever works. $14.7 billion tax dollars
- Locust Plague Deterrent – keeping the food chain intact or divert to Middle East. $2.1 Billion
- Anti-Amphibian Protective Force Field – you never know when a rain of frogs will mess up your day. $123 Billion
- Zombie Contingency Plan – a machete, shotgun and ample ammunition for everyone over 14. Paid for by the NRA
I truly hope nothing ever bad happens to the town of Cannon Beach. Or any town. But it will. Eventually. In the mean time, I think we should be focusing our efforts, and tax dollars, on the things that are problems NOW. Or at least, very, very probable in the near future. Leave the post apocalyptic paranoia to Irwin Allen, Mel Gibson and the SyFy Channel.