Neighbor fights for Tillamook tsunami sirens

Neighbor fights for Tillamook tsunami sirens

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by Keely Chalmers

Bio | Email | Follow: @KeelyChalmers

kgw.com

Posted on October 9, 2012 at 6:08 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 9 at 9:12 AM

A Rockaway Beach woman is using social media in a fight to save the tsunami sirens in Tillamook County.

Tillamook County Commissioners have decided to stop using them on January 1, 2013.

Tillamook County's director of emergency management Gordon McCraw says new research shows the sirens are not necessary.

“In a distant event such as a Japanese earthquake, the threat is only to the beach area and the beach area alone,” explained McCraw.

The second Monday of every month Rockaway Beach tests its tsunami sirens. It's a familiar sound Ocie Johnson loves to hear.

“It’s very comforting to me to know they’re up, they’re working and we’ve got warning,” said Johnson. But at the end of the year they will no longer sound.

Johnson started a facebook page devoted to saving the sirens. As of Monday she already had more than 90 “likes.” She hopes the support would sway commissioners to change their minds.

McCraw added that in the event of a distant earthquake, like the one that rocked Japan in March of last year, the tsunami would take hours to reach our coast and that would leave emergency crews plenty of time to patrol the beaches making public announcements.

“These concerns about sirens and distant events really to me show a focus on the non-lethal scenario … we need to focus on the lethal scenario,” said Pat Corcoran, Oregon State University Hazard Outreach Specialist.

Corcoran thinks coastal residents should be more concerned with an earthquake closer to shore, where it wouldn’t be the sirens but the severe shaking that would warn people of the coming tsunami.

But Johnson disagrees. “A siren is universal… it’s in any language,” said Johnson.

She is worried about the visitors who may not know to evacuate. Which is why, even if the sirens go quiet , she says she won't.

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