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Sleeping through the tsunami

View From the Porch: The tsunami that wasn’t


Seaside Signal

Published on February 1, 2018 9:57AM

Last changed on February 1, 2018 10:42AM

Tsunami evacuation map.

City of Gearhart

Tsunami evacuation map.

Last week I woke up at my usual 7-something to learn I’d narrowly escaped death by sleeping through a tsunami, sort of. An earthquake in the waters off Alaska, created a tsnumai threat affecting the entire west coast. Mr. Sax, who had been up for hours, delivered this news as I started the coffee.

“I guess we slept through the alarm,” I said. “And that’s weird because we’re both light sleepers.”

A short while later, I stopped at By The Way in Gearhart, a coffee shop I frequent. There’s a Stammtisch table there too; gathered around it, everyone was talking about the tsunami that wasn’t. I detected an air of excitement. So little happens in Gearhart that a tsunami, even one that wasn’t, is big news, at least for a couple of hours.

“I slept through it,” I said.

Later that day, Gearhart’s Mayor Matty Brown posted on his FB page a message from the city government regarding the tsunami alert that wasn’t. The message reiterated that while emergency protocols were enacted and call lists readied, it was determined there was no credible threat to the area. Seaside and Gearhart’s warning sirens are connected; Seaside emergency managers after determining there was no danger, decided not to sound the alarms.

A local novelist I know IRL (that’s techno-speak for “in real life”) posted on her Facebook page that the national warning advisory awakened her at 2 a.m. to say a tsunami was coming. Her thread was crammed with comments from far-flung friends and fans saying they were worried. I saw, when I finally looked at my phone, I had a few messages. It felt lame to respond to these heartfelt entreaties of concern saying, “I slept through it.”

So what would it be like if there was a tsunami warning alarm and we slept through it, I asked my spouse. He shrugged and said, “I guess we’d be dead.”

I was strangely satisfied by this answer. Truth be told, I’m less concerned about surviving a tsunami than I am the aftermath. I thought about bolting the house in driving rain, possibly clad in pajamas, which I would have to wear for days or weeks. I imagined navigating mudslides, huge logs, thousands of pounds of debris, wondering where I’d go to the bathroom, no lattes. I hate camping. Deprived of hot water for even 24 hours turns me into a witch.

If the alarm goes off in the middle of the night, I said to my spouse, I might just stay in bed.


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