With guidance from the Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI), the South Tillamook Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), as part of the South County Emergency Volunteer Corps, is developing a Tsunami Escape Route Wayfinding Signage Plan for the Neskowin and Winema area.

As OEM and DOGAMI note in a Wayfinding Guidance document: “Tsunamis are usually generated by great subduction zone earthquakes when the ocean floor is rapidly uplifted during the earthquake. The tsunami wave from a local subduction zone earthquake will arrive at the coast in approximately 10-20 minutes, and tsunami waves will continue to arrive periodically for several hours. When the shaking stops, people must immediately move inland to high ground. It is critical that residents and tourists know the landward extent of the local tsunami inundation zone used on evacuation brochures, their evacuation routes, and the nearest safe zones.

The most visible way to educate the public is to use wayfinding signage that guides the public to safety. According to Webster’s Dictionary, wayfinding is defined as, “the process or activity of ascertaining ones position and planning and following a route.” It is imperative that coastal communities provide clear and consistent wayfinding signage to residents and visitors alike.  People will need to be able to move quickly uphill and inland after the ground stops shaking.  Proper use of wayfinding signage will help people evacuate safely and quickly no matter the time of day or weather conditions.”

Based on DOGMAI’s Tsunami maps (https://www.oregongeology.org/pubs/tsubrochures/NeskowinEvacBrochure-12-12-12_onscreen.pdf), CERT members are working with other local residents this spring to identify which types of signs should be placed at which locations. Some signs will indicate the Tsunami Evacuation routes, others will indicate when persons have reached a safe point outside of the tsunami zones, and others will indicate where the Evacuation Assembly areas are located.  Signage will also guide persons who are travelling on U.S. 101to high ground when the
earthquake hits.

Our draft recommendations will be reviewed by the Tillamook County Department of Public Works for their input and approval for signs which will be installed on County roads. Once our plans are final, we will be seeking grants from DOGAMI as well as Visit Tillamook Coast for the purchase of the signs. We hope to have all signage installed in 2020. Our next step will be to develop a Tsunami Escape Route Wayfinding Signage Plan for the Pacific City area based on our experience with the Neskowin and Winema project.

For your own safety in any coastal location, go to https://www.oregongeology.org/tsuclearinghouse/ where you’ll see Tsunami Evacuation maps for your smartphone! with links for either IPhones or Androids.   This App will tell you when you’re standing outside of the XXL  Tsunami zone for the purpose of placing “Leaving Tsunami Zone” signs.

Tsunami evacuation route

This sign should be placed along roads designated as tsunami evacuation routes that take people out of the tsunami hazard zone. Evacuation routes are identified by local governments.  At present the sign comes in two sizes: standard size is 24” in width and a minimum of 18” in width. Due to Federal Standards, ODOT will no longer make the round signs. It is important that the sign be visible; thus the larger sign may be warranted in some situations. It is recommended that an arrow sign be used in conjunction with the evacuation route sign to insure that people go in the right direction. The orientation of the arrow sign with respect to the evacuation route sign may vary. An arrow plaque should be used to show the recommended evacuation direction, whether left, right, or straight ahead.”

Tsunami assembly area

This sign can be placed outside of the tsunami evacuation zone indicating that people do not need to go further inland or uphill. It could also be placed at a pre-designated destination or assembly area. An assembly area does not necessarily mean that there will be shelter or supplies available. It is a pre-designated meeting place to aid in response efforts. This sign also comes in two sizes: 18″ x 22″ and 24″ x 30″. Once again the sign should be visible so choose the right sized sign for the location.

Entering and leaving the tsunami hazards zone

DOGAMI, in partnership with ODOT, is working to ensure Entering and Leaving tsunami hazard zone signs are installed along the length of the Highway 101 system, as well as certain critical secondary highways that intersect with Highway 101. To date, ~175 signs have been installed on the central to northern Oregon coast (Lincoln, Tillamook, and Clatsop counties). The final phase of sign installation planned for the south coast is expected to be completed in late 2019.

These signs should be placed on major state or county roads where the road enters and leaves the tsunami hazard zone. They should be placed on both sides of the road and at both ends of the specific stretch of road within the tsunami hazard zone. However, if the road dead ends, then signs need only be placed at one end where people are entering and leaving, such as a State Park.

The signs come in one size: 42” x 48” so it can be visible by motorists traveling at highways speeds.