CANNON BEACH — A city-owned, 5-acre lot soon could be designated as the site where residents’ emergency supplies will be stored in the event of a tsunami or other disaster.

The Cannon Beach Planning Commission last week approved a city request to place two 20-foot-long shipping containers on property fronting Elk Creek Road, east of U.S. Highway 101.

The property is 70 feet in elevation and will be filled with crushed rock and compacted sand to a height of 80 feet, which is expected to be above the level that a tsunami would reach.

Before the containers can be installed, officials must also receive approval from the city design review board.

So far, 53 people have signed up to store their supplies in the shipping containers, which measure 8 feet high, 8 feet wide and 20 feet long. The supplies will be stored in 55-gallon metal drums, 30-gallon plastic barrels and 5-gallon plastic buckets with lids. Those smaller containers will be placed in the shipping containers, but how many can be stored depends on how they are arranged.

Of those who signed up during and after the city’s annual emergency preparedness forum in April, 13 chose the 55-gallon drums, 30 selected the plastic barrels and 10 picked the buckets.

The small containers will be sold by the city at cost to those who sign up. Annual fees – amounting to $1 per gallon per container – will be charged for maintenance and improvement of the storage sites and assembly areas. Fees for the metal drums, for instance, would be $55 per drum, and those with the barrels would pay $30, while $5 would be charged for the buckets.

“Part of the strategy is to have emergency supplies in the vicinity of the designated assembly areas where people will congregate,” said City Planner Rainmar Bartel.

Ten evacuation assembly areas throughout the city have been designated as “go-to” spots that should be high enough to avoid tsunamis. The elevations were determined following studies by state geologists who analyzed sand layers and mapped out where past tsunamis reached locally.

The proposed shipping containers on Elk Creek Road will be located east of an assembly area designated at Cannon Beach Bible Church on Hills Lane, which borders the highway. It also could serve assembly points for the downtown, presidential streets and midtown areas.

Officials plan to place the containers on a 2,000-square-foot pad 20 feet back from the road and plant shrubs to screen the containers from public view. Although only one container may be purchased to begin the pilot project, space will be allotted for a second container. Eventually a structure could be built between the two containers, Bartel said.

By having a larger area around the containers, space will be available to move equipment and provide public access, Bartel said.

The pilot project will test how well the community accepts the concept of storing emergency supplies and how officials will monitor and maintain the containers. If the first containers prove successful, more may be placed in other areas, city officials have said.

“This is just a draft program,” said Public Works Director Mark See. “There is genuine interest right now, but there’s room to grow.”

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