I’ve got a plan!

14 03 2011

Friday was spent checking MSNBC for updates.  Still reeling from the destruction in Japan, my office-mates and I were now concerned about the disaster sweeping across the Pacific towards our coast.  Friends and family on the other side of the mountains could be in trouble!

Throw a tornado at me, I know what to do.  But earthquakes?  Tsunamis?  Shake my world like I’m in a snowglobe, then send a 33-ft wall of water to sweep everything from trees to cars to houses a couple miles inland??  I have no idea what’s going on.  I had never even heard of a tsunami until the big one in Indonesia back in ’04, and I was too concerned with my new college career and boys to pay much attention.

Well, this got me thinking.  The midwest has tornadoes, the gulf and the coastal areas have hurricanes, and the west coast has earthquakes and tsunamis.  But Bend isn’t on the coast, we’re in the high desert.  We don’t have to worry about any of these disasters.  So what do we worry about?

Then I remembered:  Bend sits right along a string of VOLCANOES.  Oh shoooooot.  Ok, so North and Middle Sister are both supposedly dormant or extinct.  But South Sister, closest to Bend, isn’t…. Also, St. Helens is active, Mt Hood is the most likely volcano in Oregon to erupt (so says Wikipedia), Jefferson still hasn’t been officially declared dormant, and Newberry Crater has sent lava flowing past Bend before.  Hm.

So what IF:

The earthquakes in Japan set off a series of earthquakes all around the Pacific – Hawaii already had one.  The earthquakes reach the San Andreas fault – already recognized to be ready for a big quake any day – and shake the Northwest.  The neighboring plates under Oregon jolt, causing this piece of the Ring of Fire to erupt!  It could start as far south as Shasta and cause eruptions all up the Cascades.  Ahh!  We’re surrounded!

So I asked my co-workers, are you prepared?  They all laughed.  When I was in school, we had drills to practice our plan in case we were ever hit by a tornado.  Sadly, our plan was needed and used.  But here?  No one pays any attention to the towering peaks.  Nicole told me it was simply because eruptions happen so infrequently, are so unlikely, and that volcanoes give so much warning, that its not like we have to act super quickly in the event one did go off.  And none of these near-by volcanoes, with the exception of St Helen’s in Washington, have erupted in hundreds of years.

Not convinced, I decided to come up with a plan on my own.  Here’s my end result:

Volcano Evacuation Plan

The top drawing needs to be on road signs near every single volcano!

Notice I included both what to do and where to go.  The nearest high ground would be either Pilot Butte or Awbrey Butte, but I choose Pilot Butte as our refuge due to a farther proximity from the volcanoes.  We’ll have a stash of goods hanging out in case we’re stuck up there for a while.  I have no clue how long the eruption would last or how long it takes for lava to cool.  Does anyone know??  I better go ask National Geographic.

I figure we should also have a bunker of some sort built on top of Pilot Butte.  Just from reading about St Helen’s latest fiery belch in 1980, lava is not the only problem.  Falling ash covers absolutely everything, and the gases coming out are worse than grandpa after Thanksgiving.  We’ll need oxygen for sure.

So this is the plan.  Go ahead and pass it around to all your buddies.  I’m here to help save lives.  And if you have further suggestions, please share.  We’re in this together!

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