SEASIDE - If a tsunami hits and you don't know where to go, look for the signs.
Seaside Public Works crews have been installing the blue and white evacuation route signs throughout town. About 70 signs indicate the street as an evacuation route and include an arrow pointing the way to an evacuation site or high ground.
Signs start at the beach and continue to three evacuation assembly areas located at the Tillamook Head parking lot, Seaside Heights Elementary School and on Lewis and Clark Road, near Royal View Drive. About 85 percent of the signs have been installed, Public Works Director Neal Wallace said.
The project is a cooperative effort between the city, the Seaside Public Commission on Safety, Oregon Emergency Management, Clatsop County Emergency Services and the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.
"We're delighted because of the vast amount of visitors that we have in Seaside on any given day," said Gloria Linkey, chairwoman of the Seaside Public Commission on Safety, which formed in January 2003. "This will certainly help them in the event of an emergency. Our city is pretty on-the-ball about things like this."
The second part of the project is tsunami evacuation route maps which will soon be available at various emergency service buildings, city hall and the public works department. City officials also plan to mail the map to every Seaside resident.
The maps detail the evacuation areas and major Seaside landmarks, including the city hall, fire station and police station. It also indicates all locations of current motels and bridges.
"What we need to make sure is that people know where the bridges are," City Manager Mark Winstanley said. "That becomes critical in this town. You can't just get in your car and head east. You have to head east on a street that has a bridge."
The map also includes information about what to do if the ground begins to shake, tsunami facts and tips to prepare an emergency survival kit.
According to the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, a tsunami is a series of sea waves usually caused by an undersea earthquake. They can occur at any time and waves may be from 20 to more than 100 feet high. Recent research indicates that tsunamis have struck the Pacific coast regularly. A local tsunami is caused by an undersea earthquake close to the coastline and may occur very quickly. A distant tsunami is caused by a distant undersea earthquake and may take four or more hours to come onshore.
The cities of Gearhart, Cannon Beach, Warrenton and cities on the Long Beach Peninsula in Washington also have tsunami evacuation route signs placed throughout town.