Salem, OR -- The New Year isn't a month old and already killer earthquakes have shattered whole villages in El Salvador, and hammered Mexico. Closer to home, a quick glance at the Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network's index map reveals over a dozen small but measurable quakes scattered up and down the I-5 corridor, reaching north to Deming, Washington and south to Newburg, Oregon, with temblors felt west towards Ocean Shores and east to Mount Hood. Earlier this month Alaska felt the strongest temblor recorded in the U.S. in over a year, registering 6.8 - rocking Kodiak Island, and felt in Dillingham, Homer, upper Kenai Peninsula and Anchorage. According to FEMA Acting Regional Director Tammy Doherty, the recent spate of headline-grabbing quakes may not presage Armageddon, but they certainly signal a need for serious disaster preparedness plans, kits and precautions.
"Earthquakes happen all the time and predictions are at best imprecise. While seismologists generally agree that these quakes are unrelated, they remind all of us of the seismic faults which weaken Pacific Northwest coastlines, and reach north into Alaska and across to Idaho and eastern Oregon," said Doherty. "One of FEMA's toughest jobs is educating the public about emergency preparedness and pre-disaster mitigation."
Last year FEMA paid out billions of dollars in disaster relief for floods, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes and other disasters. Insurers lost billions more. People lost homes, belongings and keepsakes that can never be replaced.
"We need to ask ourselves what we would do if a major disaster struck while our kids were at school, or in the middle of a commute or when we're away from home, and plan for the worst case scenario," said Doherty. "The key is to mitigate our vulnerabilities before disaster strikes."