The city of Cannon Beach is one of the most tsunami-conscious on the Oregon Coast.

Residents braced for impact early Friday morning, March 11.

Cannon Beach Fire Chief Cleve Rooper said he was most concerned about what a wave would do to the estuaries and the beaches.

Rooper and his firefighters drove through all of Cannon Beach’s low-lying areas and went to hotels and businesses in the danger zone. Police officers and firefighters conducted welfare checks on residents with disabilities.

They suggested that people in beachfront hotels go to Haystack Heights, a residential area east of U.S. Highway 101. The elevation there is about 80 feet.

Those who were evacuated were advised to not return to their homes, businesses or hotels until the “all clear” was given because “you never know when the waves are going to hit,” Rooper said.

People reacted to the warnings calmly, Rooper said.

City Manager Rich Mays said a shelter would be available at Cannon Beach Presbyterian Church.

“We’re expecting little or no damage, but it’s open in case we need it,” Mays said. “If we don’t, it’s good practice.”

Wendy Higgins, general manager of the Ocean Lodge in Cannon Beach, said the night desk clerk notified her at 12:30 a.m. of the pending tsunami. About 20 of the hotel’s 45 rooms were filled, Higgins said.

“Because we’re not panicked and being prepared helped us a bit,”  Higgins said. “We are giving people maps, directions, food, blankets and my phone number – whatever they need.”

Tom Drumheller, co-owner of Escape Lodging, which operates the Ocean Lodge, said the staff was organized for such an event. Guests were also evacuated at the other hotels, including the Inn at Cannon Beach and the condominiums next to the Inn at Cannon Beach.

“We have some groups coming in today, but they may change their mind, which is a bummer,” Drumheller said.

Guests at the lodge appeared to take the evacuation in stride.

“It’s an adventure, I guess,” said Kim Mills, of Stanfield. “We’re not so concerned. We’re going to go to a little higher ground and wait it out.”

Jim and Bonnie Kenck, of Beaverton, waited in the dark in their car at Haystack Heights for the “all-clear” signal. They had been evacuated from Tolovana Inn. To pass the time, they played their car radio and searched for Tolovana’s webcam on their iPhone.

“It could be serious, but we had plenty of warning,” Jim Kenck said.

Jon and Linda Jelvik, of Puyallup, Wash., were sleeping at the Ocean Lodge in Cannon Beach when they received a phone call from a hotel employee at 3:45 a.m. telling them they needed to evacuate. By 5 a.m., they were heading out the door, with pillows, suitcases, coats and a bag of bagels and other goodies. They were heading to Haystack Heights.

Earlier that day, when they had checked in, Linda Jelvik had skimmed the tsunami information in their room “but I didn't think I would need it,” she said.

“This is our 25th wedding anniversary,” Linda Jelvik added. “I guess we'll remember this one.”

 

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