Washington Gov. Jay Inslee used a satellite phone to help kick off the Cascadia Rising megaquake and tsunami drill Tuesday. He urged people to be prepared for a disaster.
CAMP MURRAY — Even as soldiers and emergency responders teamed up for a massive megaquake and tsunami response drill, Gov. Jay Inslee stressed that Washingtonians must also prepare.
When the megaquake hits, “hundreds of thousands of people will have to wait days, weeks and months for their electricity to be restored,” Inslee said in a news conference to kick off Cascadia Rising.
“They will have to wait a considerable period of time to have water service to their homes,” he added. “So having a basic emergency kit in homes, in cars, in offices, is absolutely essential for everybody who lives in our great state.”
Inslee was at Camp Murray Tuesday for the kickoff of Cascadia Rising, the largest-ever drill conducted in the Pacific Northwest to test the response to a seismic event.
The drill includes thousands of military personnel and emergency responders reacting to a megaquake and tsunami that would dwarf the 2001 Nisqually quake.
More from the series:
- Overview: Washington's earthquake risks
- A quake worse than the ‘Big One’? Ruined New Zealand city shows danger in Seattle
- 4 key ways Seattle can prepare
- Quake-insurance prices soar in Washington, and companies hold all the power
- Quake insurance in Washington: What you need to know
- Washington state’s plan for megaquake ‘grossly inadequate,’ review finds
- Buildings that kill: The earthquake danger lawmakers have ignored for decades
- Is your child safe? Washington does little to protect older schools from earthquakes
- Tips for parents to find out more
- Guide to earthquake preparedness
- About The Seattle Times’ special report
That earthquake measured a magnitude 6.8, but a Cascadia megaquake is expected to be a magnitude 9, or nearly 2,000 times more powerful.
A quake of that size — which the Cascadia Rising exercise simulates — will be closely followed by tsunamis 30 feet high or larger slamming into oceanfront communities.
“Bridges will fall, electrical grids will fail, buildings will come down and hospitals will be unusable,” Inslee said. “And millions of lives will be forever impacted.”
Such an earthquake occurred most recently in 1700 along the massive fault called the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Northwest coast.
During the drill, which runs through Friday, workers will staff emergency-operations centers across Washington, as well as in Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia. They’ll receive damage reports from the field and calls for help, and attempt to deal with power loss and communications issues.
“We’re exercising our ability to communicate with one another without the internet, without phone and cell service,” Inslee said.
Monday evening, Washington National Guard members used landing craft to deliver supplies to Vashon Island. Later this week, soldiers are scheduled to conduct an airborne operation to set up a mobile operations post.
On Tuesday, the State Emergency Operations Center — located at Camp Murray — hummed with activity as coordinators grappled with their simulated megaquake and subsequent tsunami.
In a wide-open room with clusters of staffers at computer stations and TV screens mounted high on the walls, Incident Commander Chris Utzinger read over a speaker system updates from the tsunami. A wave over 12 feet high had just slammed into the Grays Harbor County town of Westport.
In a small room down the hall, a team of radio operators hunched over banks of digital and analog radio equipment and passed along printout messages to the emergency responders.
Inslee himself got real about the drill by hauling out his satellite phone. The governor needed to call the U.S. Department of Defense to ask for help from the military.
“I said, ‘No, no, cellphones aren’t working,’ ” Inslee said. “So we dug out the sat phone.”
Most Read Stories
- Family of girl snatched by sea lion lambasted for ‘reckless behavior’ WATCH
- I didn’t get it right with Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, and I apologize
- What drivers can and cannot do under Washington state's new distracted-driving law
- Blast at Ariana Grande concert in England kills 19 people VIEW
- Seahawk legend Cortez Kennedy dead at 48
“The sat phones work,” he said. “That’s good news already we’ve learned today.”