The Cascadia Earthquake: How would COCC hold up?

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It’s unlikely that a zombie apocalypse will hit Central Oregon, but an earthquake might.
An earthquake in Central Oregon is more likely than many might think, according to George Endicott, the mayor of Redmond. Endicott expressed his concerns about the Cascadia quake, or Cascadia event, when he served as a guest speaker for the American Association of University Women on Nov. 9.
Cedar Goslin
The Broadside

The Red Cross has told me to be prepared for 100,000 refugees,” George Endicott, Mayor of Redmond said. (Photo from MCT)

The Cascadia quake is an earthquake between the magnitudes of 8 and 9.2 that some geologists have speculated will occur in the near future, according to Endicott. Earthquakes of this nature are estimated to have hit the Cascadia subsection every 500 years. Central Oregon would not receive the full force of the earthquake, according to Endicott, though it would experience tremors and loss of power.
What Central Oregonians should prepare for, he said, is the loss of power and the possibility of refugees from coastal areas, which will suffer the greatest damage from the earthquake.
“The Red Cross has told me to be prepared for 100,000 refugees,” said Endicott. He suggested that, while it’s unclear if or when the earthquake will occur, Central Oregonians should consider a preparedness plan just in case.
Campus Stability
If an earthquake did occur, Central Oregon Community College would have plans in place to ensure the safety of any present staff, faculty, and students, according to Matt McCoy, the vice president for administration at COCC.
On the Bend campus, there are backup power generators located in Pioneer Hall, Boyle Education Center and the Barber Library.
“We’d be working on getting as close to functionality as we could in a short period of time,” said McCoy.
In the event of any natural disaster, according to McCoy, campus officials would work on ensuring the safety of those on campus, as well as those who may have been in the process of traveling to the campus.
“A top priority would be the students living on campus,” said McCoy. He said another top priority would be restoring campus informational systems enough to get the emergency alert system up and running. They would use it to contact all students, faculty and staff via phone, text and e-mail.
McCoy believes that the Bend campus of COCC would suffer minimal damage in the event of an earthquake. The recently opened Health Careers Center and Science Center buildings have steel frames embedded within their structure; they were built according to the current building standards, which ensure they were built to withstand potential earthquakes in the region.
Refugees on Campus
In an event of an emergency such as the Cascadia earthquake, the first priority of the college would be to regain its own functionality, according to Ron Paradis, director of College Relations. However, the COCC Bend campus could potentially be used to harbor refugees as needed.
“We would see what the needs of the community were and respond to that,” said Paradis.
Because the Bend campus serves as a training ground for various professions, there are a variety of resources available that could be used for the care of refugees if necessary.
The new Health Careers Center could potentially serve as an area to provide some medical care.
“I think it could, if the proper measures were taken,” said McCoy. “No drugs are currently held on site, so we would need to obtain those and have a way to store them safely.”
While the Health Careers Center was not designed for actual patients, according to McCoy, it does have the capacity to serve those purposes.
“We would certainly give consideration for it being used for emergency purposes,” said McCoy.
Other services the campus could offer include showers in Mazama gym, meals in the Campus Center and housing in available dorm rooms in Juniper Hall. Aside from care for refugees, the parking lots and fields could potentially be used by emergency teams to set up operational bases, according to McCoy.
COCC’s policies regarding natural disasters are outlined in the COCC continuity plan, according to Paradis, which is currently in the process of being revised. The updated plan is expected to be completed by fall 2013.
“We can only respond to what we can anticipate,” said McCoy. “And part of that is thinking ahead, which is what we do with our continuity plan.”

(Contact:cgoslin@cocc.edu)

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