Observations from A Disaster Exercise
While all of the disaster talk over the last week or so has concentrated on the coming of hurricane season, earlier this week I was a (very minor) participant in PACIFIC PERIL, a disaster exercise centered on a potential earthquake and tsunami in the Pacific Northwest-northern California, Oregon, Washington, and parts of British Columbia, mainly Vancouver Island.
I must say that in a lot of ways the whole thing was a bit disappointing-the primary focus was on the tsunami and what it would do to the coast, not so much the effects of the quake on the major urban areas further inland. The other disappointing part was how little of the exercise I was able to actually see. I was part of the Defense Coordinating Element (DCE), responsible for coordinating responses to state requests for assistance from the DoD. Which means we had very little visibility on the big picture, especially infrastructure damage.
That being said, I did learn some interesting stuff. The effects of a major Cascadia Subduction Zone quake-the exercise was modeled on a 9.0 (smaller than the 9.4 quake in Chile in 1960, the 9.2 1964 Alaska quake, and the 9.3 Sumatra quake in 2004)-could be devastating, and depending on the timing of such a quake/tsunami combo, the death toll could outstrip Katrina by far. Looking at the tsunami evacuation area maps, some coastal communities, such as Ocean Shores, WA, and Seaside, OR, would pretty much be wiped off the map, and in many others only a few structures might be left standing. Warning time between the earthquake and the first tsunami wave would vary from as little as 10 minutes on some parts of the Oregon coast to a max of 30-35 minutes. The worst case scenario would be for the quake and tsunami to hit in the winter, in bad weather (temp low-mid 30s, wind and rain, quite common in the area), not too long after nightfall. Thousands of people forced from their homes to escape the tsunami, now cold, wet, and with little or no shelter from the elements. Large numbers would die from hypothermia. And that doesn't count those killed by the tsunami itself.
Once the sun came up, rescue and relief efforts would be hobbled by large scale damage to both the coast highway (US 101) and to the east-west roads crossing the coast range, in the form of landslides, soil liquefaction, and damaged or destroyed bridges. Some sections of US 101 simply wouldn't be there anymore, since they're in the tsunami zone. One of the best presentations was given by WA state Rep. Jim Buck (R-24th), who represents a large chunk of the Olympic peninsula. He tells his constituents to be prepared to be on their own for up to three weeks, since many of those communities are served by a single road (the aforementioned US 101) which would be cut in many places. The first relief to get to many of those communities would come from the sea, in the form of Navy ships coming from San Diego (there are two nuclear carriers based in WA which could serve as search and rescue platforms, but which lack the capability to put ashore the required quantities of food and other supplies. That would have to come from the 'phibs and LCACs, which are based in SD. The 3 week estimate includes time to get those supplies to SD, load them on the ships, and get those ships to the effected area, a five day trip at full speed.) So-thousands of people with no shelter, for up to three weeks, in cold, wet weather. Not a pretty picture.
One of the other things I learned was that the Richter scale isn't the most important number in a quake to structural engineers. What matters is what they call Percentage Ground Acceleration (PGA), which measure the pushing force of the groundquake as a percentage of gravity, and duration-long duration shaking at a lower PGA can do more damage than shorter, higher PGA shaking in many cases. Now, a big Cascadia quake would likely produce 4-6 minutes of shaking (for comparison, the 1906 San Francisco quake was about a minute). In most of Washington's I-5 corridor, this would be at an intensity of 15-20 PGA, so imagine being pushed back and forth with 1/6th-1/5th the force of gravity. (My home near Olympia would be worse off, falling in the 20-25% band.) This would knock out power, phones, gas, and water, and cause serious damage to transportation infrastructure, as projections have many freeway river bridges knocked out for at least 3 days. (And yes, I'll grant the gas-tax lover in Olympia in Seattle that the Viaduct would fail. Which doesn't answer the question of why they're still debating and not fixing it.) All of this would contribute to making getting relief to the coast more challenging.
The approach of hurricane season has brought some blogging about preparedness, such as Kim reposting his Grab and Go Bag. So, how can I be better prepared? Unfortunately, quakes, unlike hurricanes, don't give any warning before they hit, so there isn't any evacuation. You're stuck in the disaster zone. With that in mind, my plan is to hunker down at home until utilities are restored, or at least until the roads are repaired to evacuate (my family, at a minimum) to someplace better off-my wife has relatives east of the Cascades. I've got a tent if the house is uninhabitable, and enough supplies for a week or so. If I get a water filtration system, there's a pond across the street. If, on the otherhand, civil disorder reaches the point where remaining at home isn't a viable option, my plan would be to take the family to Ft Lewis-an advantage of being in the military-which at the very least would be more secure.
Good Day at the Gunshow
Actually, more accurately that'd be a good find at the gunshow, since I didn't get any of the items on my shopping list, but did snag a quite interesting piece for my collection. More on that in just a bit.
Before the show I met up with the AnalogKid, proprietor of Random Nuclear Strikes (his version of events here, and nifty gunshow ditty here.) Great guy to take in the gunshow with. And you gotta love his truck. I'd have to say I'm flattered by his characterization of my knowledge of surplus rifles-I'd have to call it broad but relatively shallow, myself. So much yet to learn. And of course, so many guns to buy, and to shoot...and on that subject...
I went into the show looking for a couple of books, a die set, and a couple of specific kinds of ammo. Didn't find any of that, but halfway down the second aisle I spotted a couple of guns that caught my interest. The first was a 1941 Tula SVT-40, definitely not a refurb, as it had pretty much no finish on any of the metal, no import marks, and a duffel bag cut near the front of the stock. Unfortunately, the seller wanted more money than I could get hold of. The other was the middle rifle in the picture below:
A 1968 Egyptian Rasheed. It was on my "I'd love to have one, but I'll probably never see one" list. And the price was even reasonable.
As AK stated, we're looking at a Blogger Blastorama in late June/early July. I'm planning on bringing all three, and so try to ascertain who did the better job of solving bascially the same problem.
As for the rest of the show...I didn't notice any shortage of Wolf 7.62x39mm, although the price ($160/1000) was $10 higher than at the last show I went to (Jan? Feb?). Surplus 7.62x54R was in ample supply (unfortunately, I was seeking Wolf 7.62x54R, which I didn't see, and non-corrosive 8mm). I was quite disappointed that the Second Amendment Foundation and CCRKBA folks weren't there, since I need some new bumper stickers-their usual table was empty, except for a sign saying "Reserved-Joe W." Guess I was there too early.
And then there was the "You don't usually see those at a gunshow" pieces, which triggered the inevitable "If I was a rich man..." wishful thinking: a G43 ($2900) and not one, but TWO M1941 Johnsons ($3000 each). Frankly, I'm surprised AK didn't slip and fall on the drool.
Now, I'm off to a disaster excercise for the next few days. Not sure what kind of web access I'll have. I'll be back Thursday. To any mutants out there, see this post, and know that she has access to enough of the arsenal to defend the castle.