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An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when.

Takashima and Eldridge hope to educate the international community about how to prepare for and respond to the next big Japanese earthquake, which is expected to far exceed the quake in terms of lives lost, destruction of infrastructure, and worldwide economic impact. His debut novel, Fallout , has been translated into English.

He speaks regularly to audiences in Japan on disaster planning and response.


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He is the author of numerous books, including most recently The Origins of U. They hold field exercises at Scenario Village, the same scale-model urban simulator used by police officers and firefighters. So my volunteers need to know more than simply first aid.

Japan's megaquake and killer tsunami: How did this happen? | EARTH Magazine

They need to know wilderness first aid. Run as fast as you can to high ground. Oregon, again, is the most vulnerable. The entire Oregon coast, by contrast, is a tourist attraction , studded with one small town and city after another for its entire length. An extraordinary number of people will be vulnerable to a tsunami, especially if it strikes on a summer weekend.

The West Coast has plenty of high ground, but not everywhere. The city center is on a long, narrow peninsula, completely cut off from the mainland by the Necanicum River. You might have ten minutes; a fit person needs eight to run that far on a track. Communities there have faced a terrible dilemma for decades: abandon the peninsula or accept annihilation when a tsunami occurs. Seattle-based civil engineer Rian Johnson recently came up with a much better option: armored mini-mountains.

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He drew up plans for vertical evacuation routes atop artificial triangular hills, taller than anything else in the area and shaped like ship prows to redirect roaring water around them. Tsunami pods , another safety possibility, are now available, manufactured by Survival Capsule, a company based in suburban Seattle.

They come with flares and personal-locator beacons that go out on marine-band radio. I think about having to get in here and lock the door. The sirens are regularly tested. Every coastal hotel and motel room includes tsunami-evacuation maps.

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No one will bail you out. The deductibles are high, however—tens of thousands of dollars, in most cases. When my own Victorian house was built, there was no indoor plumbing and no electricity, but you could traverse the roads and buy things at stores, and the railroads and seaports remained operational. No one had to depend on government aid from the sky just to survive. The Israelis regularly mobilize after humanitarian disasters, though they rarely get any credit for it. They were the first aid workers to arrive in Haiti after the earthquake, for example. Wherever they need to go.

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Electricity should come back online within a few months, but indoor plumbing and sewer systems will take more than a year to get running, major highways will remain disrupted for a year and a half, and restoring health-care facilities could take up to three years. Initial repairs to the electrical grid will entail workarounds. Utility companies will patch things temporarily to get the service in.

As for water, aboveground pipes will be working before the broken underground pipes are replaced. All this work will be conducted, initially, in an enormous field of rubble. They had mountain ranges.

They had football fields of cars three on top of each other. Every one of those cars was a biohazard. It still gives me nightmares. Since then, the Japanese have taken extraordinary steps to protect themselves.

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Megaquake : how Japan and the world should respond

Our own trajectory will more likely resemble that of Christchurch, New Zealand, knocked low by a catastrophic quake in All of downtown shut down for more than two years, and some of it remains closed today. Parts of the city have been abandoned forever; residential areas prone to liquefaction are returning to greenspace. Thousands of residents had to rebuild somewhere else.

He points to Greensburg, Kansas , a small town of 1,, completely destroyed by an F5 tornado in Greensburg had to restart from zero, so its residents figured that they might as well do it right. After annihilation, then, rebirth?


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His debut novel, Fallout , has been translated into English. He speaks regularly to audiences in Japan on disaster planning and response. He is the author of numerous books, including most recently The Origins of U. Tetsuo Takashima.