Home Emergency Management News Cascadia Rising to Test PNW Megaquake Response

Cascadia Rising to Test PNW Megaquake Response


FEMA kicks off Cascadia Rising training exercise today in the Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest is due for a massive earthquake that could potentially devastate the region. And a massive potential natural disaster calls for a massive training exercise to plan for it.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) kicks off Cascadia Rising 2016 today in the Pacific Northwest. During the four-day training exercise, members of various levels of government organization and members of various private sector organizations will collectively take part in a simulated field response operation of the catastrophic impacts of a mega-earthquake and resulting tsunami.

One of the main goals of Cascadia Rising, as stated by FEMA, is to "train and test this whole community approach to complex disaster operations together as a joint team."

All told, the exercise, which will run June 7-10, is expected to involve more than 20,000 people -- most participants will be from the U.S., but some emergency management officials in British Columbia will also participate in the drills.

Indonesia in 2004

The most recent example of the devastation that a large earthquake and resulting tsunami can bring to a region occurred in Indonesia in 2004. On December 26, 2004, a magnitude-9.1 earthquake struck undersea off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The massive earthquake triggered a series of devastating tsunamis that destroyed coastlines in the Indian Ocean and resulted in more than 230,000 fatalities.

The Cascadia Subduction Zone

The Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) is an approximate 800-mile fault that runs from Northern California north up to Vancouver Island. Scientific evidence shows that a magnitude-8.0 to magnitude-9.0 quake occurs along the fault, on average, about once every 200 to 500 years. The last known large earthquake in the region occurred about 300 years ago, in January 1700. A magnitude-9.0 or larger earthquake along the CSZ is predicted to occur at some point in the near future, which would likely result in a devastating tsunami and a large, complex emergency and disaster management scenario.

FEMA's nearly weeklong Cascadia Rising drill focuses on the CSZ and the impacts it would have on cities like Seattle, Portland, OR, and Vancouver, B.C.

Matt Mills Matt Mills has been involved in various aspects of online media, both on the editorial side and on the technology side, for more than 16 years. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, and is currently involved in multiple projects focused on innovation journalism.