By: Harper Brown

In July of 2015, The New Yorker released an article stating that an earthquake dubbed “The Big One,” supposedly ranging anywhere from 8.7 to 9.2 magnitude is expected to hit the west coast and do some major damage to the Pacific Northwest.

Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and part of Canada all lay on the fault line known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Scientists have collected sediment samples from the ocean floor, and have concluded that a high magnitude earthquake hits this area once every 240 years on average. The last one happened 315 years ago which suggests that an earthquake is long overdue. According to scientists, “the region will be unrecognizable, and everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”

In 2005, a Japanese geologist named Yasutaka Ikeda argued that Japan should expect a high magnitude earthquake in the near future. Six years later, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit Japan which triggering a tsunami and nuclear meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Northeast Japan. Between these events more than 18,000 people and $220 billion in property damage was sustained. Now that scientists are suggesting that an earthquake may hit the PNW, people are full of fear and preparing for the worst. Just to be safe, Portland is in the midst of adopting an early earthquake detection system that will give up to three minutes of warning before an earthquake actually hits.

“The Big One” is expected to hit at any time now. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) predicts that it will cause violent shaking and tsunami waves, projecting to kill nearly 13,000 people, and generating another 27,000 injuries. FEMA expects that it will need to provide shelter for roughly one million displaced people, and vital provisions for another two and a half million.

FEMA suggests that if or when the earthquake hits, residents should follow protocol depending on where you are when it strikes. If you are indoors, get down on your knees, cover your neck, hold on to any steady shelter, stay away from windows until the shaking stops. If you are outdoors, find an open area away from buildings, trees, telephone poles, streetlights, and other hazardous objects. If that’s not possible, quickly get into a building to protect yourself from falling debris. If you are driving, pull over away from any outside hazards including bridges, and stay in your car until the shaking stops. The first step to earthquake safety is to be prepared. Natural disasters are inevitable, so you should always be prepared for the worst.