Sunday, May 25, 2014

Geo 730: May 25, Day 511: "Bandon, We Have A Problem" II

Looking roughly south along Bandon's south beach, you can see all the luxurious condos and beachfront homes. With the exception of the facilities on the far left, pretty much everything below the terrace in the distance has been built since the late 1980's, when the threat of earthquakes and tsunami was first recognized. Though the schedule has not been announced, those buildings along the forebeach are certainly slated for demolition. Even the larger building farther back, in the left middle and behind the pole, is vulnerable at its base... and the upper stories won't stay put if the lower ones are blown out.

Most coastal Oregon communities are based around ports, and the towns then grew away from those, often up onto surrounding terraces. The lower commercial areas are generally referred to as "Oldtown." And while I hope that, as time passes, places like Bandon look to relocate critical facilities and commerce to higher elevation, the fact that they've been in place for a century or more is completely understandable. On the other hand, permitting residential development over the last 25 years on this low fluvial-marine terrace and estuarine sediment is irresponsible, to say the least.

As commenter Skinny Dennis said in response to yesterday's post,
A good friend lives in Bandon on the bluff above the harbor. Occasionally the tsunami siren lights off if there's a heavy enough quake near the Mendocino Triple Junction. My friend tells me there's much racing thru low lying streets, lowlanders heading for high ground. And I've been on the jetty, and seen the beachfront housing nearby, what are those people thinking?
Even if the "big one" doesn't come for a few decades or more, is it worth the feeling of helplessness and panic every time the tsunami warning sounds? I know it wouldn't be, for me.

Photo unmodified. March 9, 2012. FlashEarth location.

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