Best defense for a tsunami is to be prepared

PORTLAND, Ore. - Saddled with educating Oregonians about how to survive a devastating tsunami like the one that ravaged Japan's coast a year, an Oregon State University researcher scoured Japan's coastline looking for clues - something he could bring home to Oregon to keep people safe here.

"We need to be prepared as individuals - but also as travelers from Portland, from the valley and from the rest of the world," Pat Corcoran said.

It's as easy as knowing where to go and when to go there.

In Japan, Corcoran said he found a population that was ready and moved as a unit to save themselves and each other when the magnitude 9.0 earthquake created massive waves and pushed the Pacific Ocean water miles inland.

The quake, waves and ensuing nuclear disaster killed thousands, but how many more would have died if Japan were less prepared?

"90 percent of the Japanese evacuated effectively to high ground - so that's really encouraging," Corcoran said. "I think that shows us here in Oregon that with preparedness we really can improve our odds."

The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries is playing a large part in getting us prepared. They have created new maps that should tsunami risks.

However, recent federal budget cuts eliminated the funding for the maps before all of them were completed.

But Corcoran said even without the maps, Oregonians can take steps to be prepared.

He said you should follow one rule as soon as you feel the ground shaking:

"It's time to get to high ground immediately and on your own," Corcoran said. "One of the most startling realizations was how people survived in Japan, and most people did survive by immediately saving themselves."

Click through the photo gallery to see images from Pat Corcoran's recent trip to Japan


Projections of different tsunamis in Tillamook triggered by a relatively close earthquake. (DOGAMI) Projections of different tsunamis in Coos Bay triggered by a relatively close earthquake. (DOGAMI)