While Humboldt County was largely spared in both cases that doesn’t mean the region will be so lucky the next time, if the distant and not-so-distance past is any indication. To help residents be ready, local emergency officials have planned three Tsunami Preparedness Week events that will be taking place in the coming days.
“Humboldt County is prone to a variety of natural and human-caused disasters,” said Ryan Derby, the county’s Office of Emergency Services manager. “Your best tool to effectively respond to and recover from a disaster is your personal preparedness.”
At 9:30 a.m. Saturday, there will be a walking evacuation drill in Manila, with sheriff’s deputies and Arcata Fire Department trucks driving through neighborhoods sounding hi-lo evacuation sirens while the OES tests out the Zonehaven AWARE system, a new mapping tool for first responders that categorizes Humboldt County neighborhoods into specific zones to determine evacuations areas in the event of an emergency.
After hearing the hi-lo sirens, Manila residents are being encouraged to visit community.zonehaven.com to find their designated evacuation area on the map and proceed to higher ground.
Nearly 30 years have passed since a small corner of the Cascadia subduction zone ruptured near Petrolia on April 26, 1992, shaking the region with such intensity that seismic sensors in the area were overwhelmed and a 15-mile section of coastline was thrust several feet into the air.
Within minutes, for the first time ever recorded on the West Coast, a locally generated tsunami arrived on shore, with a small wave arriving at the North Spit less than a half-hour after the magnitude-7.2 earthquake struck just before 11 a.m. Southern Humboldt beaches were hit even sooner.
In the quake’s aftermath, landslides shut down roads, water mains burst, windows shattered, a wide swath of the North Coast was left without power and fires destroyed the Petrolia post office and a shopping center near Scotia. Hundreds of people were injured and homes damaged.
But for all the ferocity released by the earth that day, the Cape Mendocino Earthquake was just a sampling of what the Casacadia subduction zone has the power of unleashing — a magnitude-9.0 or greater megathrust quake, which last occurred in 1700.
Do you know what to do in the event of a tsunami? Tsunami Preparedness Week is set for March 21-25, 2022, and the community is invited to take part in any of the several events happening this month to bolster your personal preparedness for a local tsunami.
Kicking off tsunami week, on Saturday, March 19, the community of Manila will undergo a walking evacuation drill beginning at 9:30 a.m. As part of this drill, Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies will patrol several neighborhood streets sounding the Hi-Lo Evacuation Siren and Office of Emergency Services staff will conduct a test of Zonehaven AWARE, the county’s new evacuation mapping tool. Residents in Manila are encouraged to walk to higher ground, as designated in the included map, upon hearing the Hi-Lo siren. This drill is being organized by the National Weather Service in coordination with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the Manila Community Services District.
On Wednesday, March 23, a test of the Tsunami Warning Communications System will be conducted for Del Norte, Humboldt, and Mendocino counties. Beginning at about 9 a.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) will conduct a test of Humboldt Alert, the county’s emergency alert system. Residents who are signed up for Humboldt Alert, will receive an alert to their cellphone, landline, or email as part of this test. Later that morning, at 11 a.m., the National Weather Service will then conduct a test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). As part of this test, alerts will be sent out via radio and TV broadcasts, weather radio, reverse 911, and tsunami sirens may be activated in some areas. People on the coast may also hear test broadcasts from airplanes.
Finally, on Thursday, March 24, the town of Shelter Cove will undergo a walking evacuation drill. During this drill, the town will also test their tsunami sirens. For more information about this drill, please contact the Shelter Cove Fire Department.
“Humboldt County is prone to a variety of natural and human caused disasters,” said Ryan Derby Humboldt County Sheriff’s OES Manager. “Your best tool to effectively respond to and recover from a disaster is your personal preparedness.”
Humboldt County residents are encouraged to utilize Tsunami Preparedness Week to review your personal preparedness plans for a local disaster. Find out if you live, work, or recreate in a Tsunami Hazard Zone and create a plan for how you will respond should a tsunami occur. Create and discuss your emergency plan with family, friends and co-workers.
Residents are also encouraged to sign up for Humboldt Alert, the county’s opt-in emergency alert system, and to find their pre-designated evacuation zone using Zonehaven AWARE, the county’s new evacuation mapping tool. Remember, we can’t alert you if we can’t reach you.
“Recent events like the December 6.0M earthquake and January tsunami advisory really served as a wakeup call to some of our coastal communities regarding the very real threat of a destructive tsunami,” Derby said. “Whether you are on the coast or inland, now is the time to begin getting yourself and your family prepared for whatever disaster the future may have in store.”