Coastal State Parks, Communities Work Together to Prepare for ‘The Really Big One’

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The threat of an earthquake and subsequent tsunami on the coast has spurred state parks and communities into co-developing emergency plans

NEWPORT — Park rangers at South Beach State Park have spent the summer working together with the City of Newport to improve tsunami preparedness by standardizing wayfinding signs in the park and community. The signs indicate the extent of the tsunami inundation zone—AKA everything that will be underwater should a big wave hit—and the best ways to reach safe ground. The goal is to have consistent signage that points people to safety whether they’re in town, at the park, on a trail or even on the beach.

South Beach State Park.

In the park, ranger Rod Mongenel has been leading a small team to establish clear evacuation routes. The team has erected reflective signage, labeled trail posts and painted tsunami symbols on park roads to help steer evacuating park visitors in the right direction.

“Ideally, visitors will continue out of the park and to safety with no confusion,” said Mongenel. “Making sure our signs match the city’s signs is the first step.”

Rod says that once the signs are all in place, they’ll invite community members to test the routes and point out any flaws or confusing sections. The park will also step up tsunami safety education for park visitors by weaving tips into interpretive programs and pointing out evac routes to incoming campers. Evacuation maps will also be placed on all information boards in the park.

Mongenel is optimistic the tsunami safety changes in the park and community will have a lasting effect.

“Staying connected with the community and working together to prepare is the best tsunami defense we have,” said Mongenel. “In fact, other central coast communities have been calling us and asking how they can mount similar efforts in their towns. It’s great knowing that we’ll all be prepared should ‘The Really Big One’ hit.”

About Author

Matt Noble is a Communication Specialist with Oregon State Parks.

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