Letters to the editor: Tsunami evacuation plans

Evacuation concept

wrong in many ways

When I read about the pursuit of “Vertical Evacuation Structures” to save the residents of Ocean Shores in the event of a tsunami I realized I had to say something.

This concept, in this location, is so wrong in so many ways.

In the unlikely event each structure actually ends up costing in the vicinity of only $2.2 million, that’s about $5,000 per person “saved” if indeed that many people make it all the way to the top of the proposed 60’ height in the realistic less-than-ten-minutes window everyone will have. And that the waves which scour the beach are 60’ or less in height. And does anyone really believe the thousand or more tourists near one of the structures will just stand in place and observe in awe at that moment?

Even if every person a structure could hold were standing around the base of it at the exact moment the earthquake began, how long do you think it would take to get all of them to the top?

Unfortunately, like the Allies’ Operation Market Garden during WWII, the scenario promoted by the folks who control the City of Ocean Shores depends entirely upon their imagined specific scenario unfolding exactly as they imagine it will. And that happens how often?

If you think about it, Ocean Shores is a lot like the Titanic. It even looks a little like a ship, docked at one end. The Titanic sank in calm water with plenty of time to get passengers into lifeboats and, yes, even overload the lifeboats. Despite the obvious lack of sufficient lifeboats the crew could have saved hundreds more. Bear in mind that the Titanic actually carried more lifeboats than were required at the time, but still too few thanks to antiquated maritime laws.

The Titanic became the disaster it was in part because in a real disaster, faced with a large population who has never really trained for a disaster, things don’t go as smoothly, as fast, or even as planned. Panic sets in pretty fast and is nearly impossible to stop.

And like the folks who ultimately managed the disaster which the Titanic became, Ocean Shores bureaucracy is sipping the Kool Aid of belief in a misguided “best practices” scenario, which will polarize the community, ultimately save very few lives — if any, and yet appear to anyone not really paying attention as a marvelous and proactive step forward.

There are many other creative solutions, some of which go contrary to the easier-to-sell paradigm Ocean Shores rulers have chosen to embrace. I’d mention them all here, but this is a letter, not a white paper. I can be found everywhere on the Internet if anyone wants to discuss actually saving lives.

Hank Isaac

Ocean Shores

Tsunami structure cost

for property owners

My husband and I attended the tsunami meeting held at the Convention Center and found it to be very informative. The presentation, given by two state emergency officials, explained the potential for a future tsunami/earthquake disaster and how the city might address this. We also heard the Mayor explain her desire to go forward with building the tsunami tower structure, something she has been working on for many years. Here is some of the information we learned:

• It will require approximately 20 towers to accommodate the residents of Ocean Shores.

• Each tower will cost between three to four million dollars, depending on who owns the property. Each tower can hold about 460 people.

• The FEMA grant will require Ocean Shores to contribute 25 percent of the cost. A four million dollar structure will require the city to pay one million dollars of the cost. That’s for one tower.

• How will you get to the tower? The tsunami will cause trees and power lines to block the roads, so you will probably be walking to the tower.

I understand a tsunami structure will help some of the residents, but can we really afford to pay for this? Would your money be better spent on a structure that could provide medical care for those people injured or distributing food and water till outside help can arrive?

Would it be more beneficial to encourage residents to be tsunami prepared and make sure the tsunami siren is working and can be heard throughout the area? I realize I don’t have the answers but I do think building 20 towers is a pretty big dream for this community. So far, the city hasn’t used our money to keep the roads in good condition, add street lighting or repair the water/sewer systems. There is a lot of enthusiasm for the towers, but no comments on how the city plans to pay for them. Why not attend the next city council meeting and ask them how one tower structure will affect your taxes. Or, you can write or email your Mayor.

Jan Hiatt

Ocean Shores