First tsunami-resistant shelter in US planned by residents of small town

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Washington, October 24 (ANI): Residents of the small Oregon town of Cannon Beach in the US are preparing to build the first tsunami-resistant shelter in the U.S.

According to a report in National Geographic News, the updated design of city hall in the town, which would double the building's cost from U.S. 2 million dollars to 4 million dollars, reflects a new focus on disaster preparedness in the Pacific Northwest.

The Pacific Northwest is one of the most dangerous earthquake and tsunami zones in the world-capable of producing magnitude 9 earthquakes followed within minutes by deadly, 50-foot (15.2-meter) high waves.

The next big earthquake could happen tomorrow or in several hundreds of years, but no one knows for sure.

The culprit is the Cascadia subduction zone, which geologists say is a near twin of the fault zone that produced the deadly Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in late 2004.

One way of improving survival odds is to build tsunami-resistant shelters in what's expected to be the worst danger zones, according to Yumei Wang, a geotechnical engineer at the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries in Portland.

Such buildings are built on sturdy, pillar-like stilts, with embankments or seawalls to dissipate waves.

The structures also need ramps that allow quick entry into the shelter. Buildings are usually designed for people to exit, "but in this case, we want to get people into the building," said Wang.

Tsunami shelters exist in Japan, but Cannon Beach is the first American town to take steps toward building one.

"The structure, which will be completed in the next three years, would have a flat roof on which 1,000 to 2,000 people could take refuge," Wang said.

According to Patrick Corcoran, a hazards outreach specialist with the Oregon Sea Grant program at Oregon State University, "I think it's pushing the technology in a good direction," though he added that emergency training is also crucial. (ANI)

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