What’s the Risk of an Earthquake in Bellingham, WA.?

Considering that the seismology lab at the University of Washington records roughly 1,000 earthquakes per year in Washington and Oregon, I’d say the risk is fairly high.

Of those 1000 earthquakes one to two dozen are strong enough to be felt. Most are in the Puget Sound region. Most don’t cause any damage.

The earthquakes I have felt are over by the time I’ve realized we are having an earthquake.

Recent research shows that there was a 9.0 earthquake in the PacificEarthquakes near Bellingham Northwest in January 1700. If you want the scoop on the what, why and where of earthquakes here, go the the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network

According to scientists we are due for another Big One – sometime between today and 300 years.

My friend Richard was in Chile for the 8.8 earthquake in February. He was in the town of Concepcion on the 14th floor of an 18 story building.

He said he hit every wall in his apartment and saw the walls crumbling to the point that he could see the rebar. He says over and over that he owes he life to the engineers of that building.

The whole town moved 10 feet to the west!

Richard is now a pretty strong advocate for earthquake readiness as you might imagine. He says after about a week help is arriving. It’s those first few days that are especially dicey. No power, no phones, no transportation, no internet. Water becomes a valuable commodity.

It can happen here in Bellingham – there are a few simple, basic things you can do to prepare.

Have Disaster Supplies on Hand

  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Portable battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
  • First aid kit and manual.
  • Emergency food and water.
  • Nonelectric can opener.
  • Essential medicines.
  • Cash and credit cards.
  • Sturdy shoes.

By far the most important is water. People have lived weeks without food, but only a couple days without water can be very serious. Buy or fill a couple of big water containers designed for water storage and store them in your garage. Richard says 5 gallons of gas can really come in handy, just store it safely.

The nice thing about preparedness is you can put your “kit” together, stash it and quit thinking about disasters.

The last tip is to have a family contact out of the area. If you get separated from loved ones, agree in advance to call someone out of the area to report in.