Tillamook assesses tsunami warning system

Tillamook assesses tsunami warning system

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by Abbey Gibb, KGW Staff

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kgw.com

Posted on March 19, 2011 at 3:59 PM

Updated Saturday, Mar 19 at 5:40 PM

TILLAMOOK, Ore. -- The recent tsunami didn't cause any widespread damage for Tillamook County, but it certainly opened the city's eyes to how prepared--or how unprepared--the area is for such a disaster.

Tsunami warnings blared through Tillamook County last Friday.  For the first time in years, neighbors up and down the coast knew this was not a drill.  A community of about 25,000 people had the luxury of time as evacuations went off without a hitch.

"The community is doing a very, very good job. But clearly they feel there is more to do," said Sen. Ron Wyden.

Mayors, emergency leaders and law enforcement debriefed Wyden on the process. Authorities made door-to-door stops and a reverse 911 calls, but only about half of the residents received them.

"Either people didn't have answering machines or the trunk system duplicated over with Lincoln County. We're still investigating," said Tillamook County Sheriff Todd Anderson.

Many also complained they couldn't hear the aging sirens.

"They don't make parts for these sirens so they have to be creative in how they put these together," Anderson pointed out.

It will cost Tillamook county nearly $200,000 to replace them. Nehalem's mayor believes if a major local earthquake does hit, most likely the phone lines will be down along with the sirens anyway.

"Do we even try to maintain the system? Because so many of the sirens are old. They don't make parts anymore. It all boils down to money," Nehalem Mayor Shirley Kalkhaoven said.

For now they haven't decided what to do with the sirens and are still investigating the 9-1-1 calls.

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