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Coastal Leaders Urge Congress to Prepare Communities for Tsunami

January 10, 2017
Press Release

Congresswoman Bonamici Reintroduces Bipartisan Tsunami Warning, Education, and Research Act

WASHINGTON, DC [01/10/17] — Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) has introduced bipartisan legislation to help prepare coastal communities for tsunami. Several other Congressional members have sponsored the bill with Bonamici, including Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Don Young (R-AK), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Denny Heck (D-WA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Charlie Crist (D-FL), and Derek Kilmer (D-WA). This legislation will strengthen tsunami detection and warning systems, improve response and resiliency, and better protect communities vulnerable to tsunami. The legislation would complement local and state efforts to prepare for tsunami.

“Many Oregonians, including students from Seaside High School in coastal Oregon, have told me that there won’t be enough time to make it to safety when there’s a tsunami,” said Suzanne Bonamici. “I applaud Seaside residents for passing a bond recently to rebuild schools on higher ground to reduce the dangers of tsunami, and state and local governments are working hard to prepare and educate the public. But the federal government can do more to help keep coastal communities safe through improved warning systems. This bill is one part of the solution. Preparing for tsunami is a life-or-death matter for residents of coastal Oregon and other coastal communities.”

“Living in a coastal area has many benefits, but also poses unique threats -- such as tsunami strikes,” said Jaime Herrera Beutler. “I’m pleased to join with my colleagues in this bipartisan effort to strengthen detection and warning systems for communities along our coast. We’ll continue to work together to help folks in Pacific County have access to the protection and response efforts to keep them safe.”

“It is a not a question of if an earthquake will happen. It is a question of when,” said Peter DeFazio, top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “A large scale/magnitude 8 or higher earthquake on the Cascadia Subduction Zone has the potential to cause a tsunami with devastating effects in Oregon. Investment in early detection and warning systems is a necessary step towards saving lives and minimizing damage to critical infrastructure from a tsunami. It’s imperative for our coastal communities to have all the resources available to them to prepare and protect themselves from a major natural disaster, and a tsunami is no exception.”

“Last November, the community of Seaside School District made a truly historic decision that will improve the lives of children and families for generations to come. They overwhelmingly passed a bond that will allow us to move all of our schoolchildren out of the tsunami inundation zone,” said Dr. Doug Dougherty, Superintendent Emeritus of Seaside School District. “I appreciate the efforts of Congresswoman Bonamici and her colleagues to improve tsunami warning systems and provide more support for communities like ours that are working hard to prepare for an unimaginable but inevitable earthquake and tsunami on the Oregon coast.”

In the 2015-2016 legislative session, the US House of Representatives unanimously passed a similar version of the bill. The Tsunami Warning, Education, and Research Act improves the tsunami warning system’s forecasts of tsunami arrival and damage estimates. The bill strengthens the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) hazard mitigation program through additional technical and financial assistance to communities and it establishes a working group to provide advice on tsunami science and technology. The bill also supports development of community-based outreach and education programs to bolster community readiness and resilience. You can read the text of HR 312, the Tsunami Warning, Education, and Research Act here.