CANNON BEACH – Cannon Beach resident Les Wierson is the city’s first Citizen of the Year.

Wierson, who led the effort to map out neighborhood evacuation routes as a member of the city’s emergency preparedness committee, was honored at a “citizen appreciation” reception held this week for Cannon Beach’s volunteer committees.

Mayor Mike Morgan presented the award to Wierson and praised his work on preparing tsunami evacuation maps and for establishing safe houses in neighborhoods after natural disasters, such as a Cascadia earthquake and tsunami.

“He came up with the idea of lining up neighbors’ houses and putting away supplies for neighbors and visitors,” Morgan said following Monday’s reception. “I think the idea will spread to all areas of Cannon Beach.”

Wierson said he was surprised at the award.

“It floored me,” he said. “It was very satisfying.”

The plaque Wierson received said he was recognized for his “dedication to emergency preparedness and his commitment to the safety of Cannon Beach residents and visitors.”

He was praised as a “man who has selflessly spent countless hours planning and preparing evacuation route maps and information to prepare the city for emergencies.”

Wierson and his wife, Myrna, moved to Cannon Beach in 1958, when he became public works engineer for the city. Eventually, they left Cannon Beach as full-time residents, but kept a second home there. They recently returned there permanently.

“Cannon Beach has always been home in our hearts, even though we have traveled the world,” Wierson said.

It took two years and help from many people to develop the evacuation maps, Wierson said. Studies done by the state Department of Geology and Mineral Industries and a new “Lidar” optical remote sensing technology that displayed the contours and elevations of Cannon Beach helped in the maps’ creation, he added.

Although the city is making “giant steps” in preparing for an offshore earthquake and tsunami, “there’s still so much to do,” Wierson said.

“We have maps to get people to safe assembly areas, but they still need food and shelter, and we need to prepare the city for carrying on afterwards.”

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