Analysis – 10,000 could die in Northwest quake – Natural disasters and business as unusual

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Natural disasters and “business as unusual

Report states that “a policy of business as usual implies a post-earthquake future that could consist of decades of economic and population decline”

Satterfield speaks to SEFF conferenceBy Jim Satterfield, Firestorm President

In a recent science article by NBC News, a report summarized that more than 10,000 people could die when — not if — a monster earthquake and tsunami occur just off the Pacific Northwest coast, as told by researchers to Oregon legislators Thursday.

This report came as we watched twenty properties on the scenic island hillside of the Ledgewood Beach Community in Coupeville, Whidbey Island as they were damaged by a massive landslide in Washington state displacing 200,000 cubic yards of earth, or about 40,000 dump truck loads, officials said Thursday.

In 1999, the Oregon State Department of Geology and Mineral Industries published a preliminary statewide damage and loss study identifying the dire consequences of a Cascadia earthquake and tsunami for Oregon’s infrastructure and for public safety.

Oregon Resilience PlanIn early 2011, the Department suggested that Oregon should take new steps to make itself resilient to a big earthquake. Less than two months later, the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan provided the occasion for Representative Deborah Boone to introduce a House Resolution calling on Oregon to plan for the impacts of a Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. Business leaders engaged in this resilience planning effort have indicated that in a major disaster, interruptions of infrastructure services lasting longer than two weeks will put their enterprises at risk.

Yet, under present conditions, Oregon researchers predict that businesses can expect some interruptions to last much longer, in some cases from 18 to 36 months or more. The state – and all states – in tandem with the private sector, have much to do to improve the reliability of basic services.

Citizens, too, need to plan to be self-sufficient for far longer than the 72-hour period commonly advised for disaster preparedness. 

The 341 page Oregon Plan is an exceptional example of Preparedness, and we at Firestorm applaud this effort.

Key findings of the study include:

  • Oregon is far from resilient to the impacts of a great Cascadia earthquake and tsunami today.
  • Available studies estimate fatalities ranging from 1,250 to more than 10,000 due to the combined effects of earthquake and tsunami, tens of thousands of buildings destroyed or damaged so extensively that they will require months to years of repair, tens of thousands of displaced households, more than $30 billion in direct and indirect economic losses (close to one-fifth of Oregon’s gross state product), and more than one million dump truck loads of debris.
  • A particular vulnerability is Oregon’s liquid fuel supply. Oregon depends on liquid fuels transported into the state from Washington State, which is also vulnerable to a Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. Once here, fuels are stored temporarily at Oregon’s critical energy infrastructure hub, a six-mile stretch of the lower Willamette River where industrial facilities occupy liquefiable riverside soils. Disrupting the transportation, storage, and distribution of liquid fuels would rapidly disrupt most, if not all, sectors of the economy critical to emergency response and economic recovery.

Business continuity planning typically assumes a period of two weeks to be the longest disruption of essential services (i.e., utilities, communications, etc.) that a business can withstand, and service disruptions lasting for one month or longer can be enough to force a business to close, relocate, or leave the state entirely.
Oregon Plan FindingsAnalysis in the Oregon Resilience Plan reveals the following time frames for service recovery under present conditions (see table):

The report goes on to say that resilience gaps of this magnitude reveal a harsh truth: a policy of business as usual implies a post-earthquake future that could consist of decades of economic and population decline – in effect, a “lost generation” that will devastate the state and ripple beyond Oregon to affect the regional and national economy.

This extensive report and the superior resources found on the Oregon Emergency Management website reinforce the message Firestorm has consistently delivered: Predict.Plan.Perform.

Our friends at FLASH, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes have collected an excellent group of resources to help your family discuss preparedness, today. Use these resources in tandem with Disaster Ready People for a Disaster Ready America, a Firestorm free ebook for your family.

For companies, continual review of your Crisis Management Plan is critical. 

A Crisis Management Plan (CMP) enables your Company to respond, communicate, and manage crises in the most efficient and effective way possible regardless of circumstances.

A Crisis Management Plan Template is designed to provide comprehensive, practical, and structured guidance to those responsible for developing a Crisis Management Plan and other related Crisis Response documents for your Company. This plan contains a recommended structure, outline, and contents for a typical Crisis Management Plan. It also includes representative support team functions that could be called into action when the Crisis Management Team is activated.

A CMP is intended to:

  • Document your CMP model
  • Identify Crisis Management Team(s)
  • Document communication protocols among groups
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities
  • Determine appropriate decision making authority and responsibilities at the local & corporate levels.

What you can do TODAY

Schedule a no-fee call with Firestorm. Your team can use this time to ask Firestorm any questions that are on your mind and, if nothing else, the call will validate that you are taking all the necessary steps to Predict the challenges ahead, Plan for business continuity, and Perform in the aftermath of a crisis. If you decide after the call that there are ways Firestorm can be of assistance, we will determine next steps together.  Crises don’t wait. Neither should you.



James (Jim) W. Satterfield is the President/COO of Firestorm. Satterfield has experience as President, CEO, and COO of various pub­lic and private companies in business continuity, communications, crisis management, environmental, insurance, reinsurance, risk management, and technology. Jim has extensive expertise in the identification of vulnerabilities and risks along with solution design.

Jim is a nationally recognized expert in the field of preparedness and crisis management, and has led in the development of national standards for pollu­tion prevention, risk management, and environmental due dili­gence. He has spoken to hundreds of groups on risk management, crisis management, governance, and disaster planning…MORE

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