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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Do You Remember the Portland Earthquake?

If you are my age, a full "three score and ten," you likely responded, "which one?"

There is an article in The New Yorker for July 20 that describes "The Really Big One." - Coming soon to a beach near Seaside:
By the time the shaking has ceased and the tsunami has receded, the region will be unrecognizable. Kenneth Murphy, who directs FEMA’s Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, says, “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”
The article focuses on the lack of preparation and awareness in the Pacific Northwest.
You can spend a lifetime in many parts of the Northwest—several, in fact, if you had them to spend—and not feel so much as a quiver.
Obviously, the author, Kathryn Schulz, didn't grow up in the Northwest - certainly not in the 1940s, 50s or 60s.

Consider this headline from an Illinois newspaper of April 14, 1949.

 It accompanies a wire-photo from Portland.

I spent a bit of time looking for a list of significant Oregon Earthquakes, and found a list in a 1995 Oregon Geology.  Here is a lightly edited extract of the list with quakes from 1941 through 1993:

 But, wait a second - where is 1949?

With $20 million in damage, (that was real money back in the day) shouldn't that make the list?  Maybe it didn't tip the Richter Scale adequately.

I was only four years old at the time, and was sitting on the living room floor near the couch when the quake hit.  My mother and an aunt were sitting on the couch.  My aunt thought our dog was trying to squeeze behind the couch and was moving it.

I e-mailed a grade-school friend of the same age this morning and he remembered exactly where he was, also.