For Oregon coastal school, tsunami preparation is ‘life or death’

(Photo: KOIN)

SEASIDE, Ore. (KOIN) — Senator Ron Wyden met with Seaside city and school leaders Sunday to discussconcerns over tsunami preparation, something he described as “life or death”.

Sen. Wyden toured local schools that sit just a few hundred feet away from the water. He saw firsthand that students in Seaside will likely be sitting ducks if the “big one” hits on the coast.

“A lot of people probably will not make it out of the building,” Seaside HS Student Body President Taylor Barnes previously told KOIN 6 News. “A lot of people will be trapped, the water will come and people will be drowning alive.”

Students like Barnes are aware of the dangers they could face if a tsunami hits.

Superintendent Doug Dougherty explained to Sen. Wyden that students would only have 15 minutes to get 1.3 miles over the bridges to safety, if they’re still standing.

“The bridges in our area were not built to withstand a 9.0,” Dougherty said. “If they can escape the unreinforced masonry buildings that will collapse, they will try to get across where there used to be a bridge, and that bridge may not be passable.”

Students have been raising money to build a new school on higher ground, but it’s slow going. Doughtery says he hopes the federal government will do its part as well.

Sen. Wyden says he’ll take the issues back to D.C., along with data from state researchers showing a tsunami wave could reach 70-80 feet. According to Dougherty, the federal government has only prepared for a wave half that size.

“I’m also on the Senate Budget Committee, which is the first place you look and start making these changes,” Sen. Wyden said. “The federal government has to do a better job of getting the science right.”

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