LINCOLN CITY, Ore. — We all know by now, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake could strike the Pacific Northwest at any time. One of the hardest hit areas will be the coast.
But the new Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital in Lincoln City was built strong enough to withstand such a megaquake.
The $42 million building has a coastal forest design meant to relax patients and visitors, but it's what's behind its walls that should really put people at ease.
It's one of only a few hospitals on Oregon's coast that will be able to withstand a massive Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.
Three years ago, state engineers reported that none of the coastal hospitals would be functional after "The Big One." Since that time, some have rebuilt.
Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital is the latest one.
The new hospital was built right next to the old one, which will eventually be demolished and replaced with a parking lot.
Along with the steel beams, bracings and 91 pilings secured to the bedrock, the structure itself was built in a way that will limit any damage from a quake.
"The walls aren't even connected," explained building engineer David Gray. "The whole ceiling can move and the walls will stay right where they're at."
The natural gas lines were also made to be flexible and remain intact despite intense shaking.
And once the shaking stops a generator will help keep the power on. The new hospital even has an emergency water connection, so if the building gets shut off from its outside water supply, staff can hook up a hose and pump in water from other sources like a fire truck or nearby Devils Lake.
"Maybe with the proper purification that could be a really long hose to the lake itself," said hospital CEO Dr. Lesley Ogden.
The hospital's goal is to be self-sufficient for up to four weeks following a megaquake. It's a goal administrators are still working on. But they know, once they get there, they'll be ready for anything.
"You can handle whatever comes your way if you're prepared for a Cascadia event," said Ogden.
Of course another big threat on the coast in the event of a Cascadia earthquake would be the tsunami.
The new Lincoln City hospital doesn't have to worry about that.
It was built high up on the hill and out of the tsunami zone.