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Corvallis. Early eighties. Huge wind storm. Power out. I lived in a four-plex on a residential street lined with huge walnut and big leaf maple trees, some with trunks three or four feet in diameter. Every block of road in our neighborhood was crisscrossed with multiple fallen trees, some of them giants. And of course the highway and major roads were blocked too, with multiple downed powerlines, trees, and debris.

Shortly after dawn, the air was filled with the sounds of dozens of chain saws. The utility companies rescuing us? Nope. It was the men in the neighborhood, dismantling the fallen trees with their chain saws. They limbed the trees and cut the huge trunks into round slices about two feet across. Everyone in the neighborhood pitched in and hauled the limbs and debris into the adjacent yards and rolled the rounds off the road to be picked up by those with wood stoves. By noon the residential roads were all clear and passible. And by that time the utility and power company trucks had cleared the highway and main streets. That's all they had to do. Everyone's yards were full of debris, to be dealt with over the next few weeks. But transportation was restored in just a single morning.

I later learned that many who live or travel in the coastal mountains routinely carry a chainsaw in their trunks or pickups. If a tree falls across the road they do exactly like my neighbors--limb the tree, cut the trunk in rounds, clear the road, and leave the rounds for whomever wants them.
The Stihl and proper recovery gear live in my truck nearly year round.
 

OldBroad44

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As far as disruption to infrastructure, not very well. The utility companies (like power and communications) have been hollowed out steadily to where they don't have the resources to do much of anything. No local crews, equipment, etc. They now rely on contractors, and only keep enough of them to do normal repairs and upgrades.

As far as transportation, the County has a good crew and enough equipment for minor repairs, like removing fallen trees and such. The County Commissioners would likely enlist help from logging crews to make roads passable in a major earthquake-type situation. (I often laugh when I read that the Coast would be isolated from the Valley for years after a major earthquake. Loggers could make a passable road in a few weeks (worst case) if there was no paperwork, inspectors, or protesters involved. You would have to provide them with diesel, culverts, crushed rock, and such. Then get out of the way!)
...
Once upon a time my boyfriend of the era and I were driving back along HWY 34 from the coast to Corvallis. I was a young broad. Boyfriend, recent California immigrant, was driving. His reaction time was fast and the car was small and nimble. Good thing. We were driving around a sharp curve in the road, a spot between Waldport and Alcea where there was a cliff straight up on our left and a cliff straight down on our right, and suddenly there were rocks blocking the road. Boyfriend managed to dodge between the rocks.

"Pull over!" I said. "We've got to get the rocks off the road. Someone going a little faster or in a bigger car or with a slower reaction time might go over the edge." He pulled over, but then looked a bit doubtfully at the rock slide area behind us. There were several dozen rocks up to about a foot across and three bigger ones two to three feet across.

I got out the flares and we each set one at either side beyond the places where the curve began. That was fun. I had carried flares for years but had never lit one. And I breathed a sigh of relief. Nobody would be piling up on the rocks or losing control and going over the cliff. Then we dug leather gloves out of our packs and started moving rocks to the roads shoulder.

About two minutes later a car, warned by our flare, came slowly, cautiously around the bend and pulled over immediately behind our car. A man and women got out and, without saying a word, pulled on gloves and started moving rocks. Then came a car with a guy coming from the other way. He, too, pulled over, put on gloves, and without a word to anyone, began moving rocks. Next came two guys in a pickup truck. They, too, put on gloves and without a word started moving rocks. Within about fifteen minutes about eight cars or trucks had stopped. Every vehicle that came by in either direction pulled over and its passengers , without saying a word, started moving rocks.We now had a dozen people, about four women and eight men, all gloved, all moving rocks. And we were running out of the smaller rocks. Now we had enough people to move the three big rocks. Soon the road was completely clear. We all took our gloves off, cheered and congratulated and high fived each other, and took off on our respective ways.

My boyfriend drove in silence for a few minutes, then said, "That's the most amazing thing I've ever seen. Did you know that was going to happen?"

"What?" I said.

"Did you know everyone would stop and help?"

"Sure." I responded, shrugging.

"In California, people expect state utility trucks and crews to do that sort of thing."

"Its likely four hours to the closest utility truck or crew and another four before it could get here. And there would probably be a few hundred cars or trucks coming around that bend in eight hours. And it took us only about twenty minutes to clear the road.

"Yeah. Yeah. It makes sense. But in California people expect society to take care of such things."

"My society DID take care of the problem, I said. "We were the part of society that was available."

Now, decades later, as an old broad, I reflect and think deeper. How did I know the others would stop and help? And why? At the time I attributed it to something essential about Oregonians. Now I realize that its more complicated. And being Oregonian is part of it, but probably just a small part. And its likely we weren't the very first to come on the rock slide that morning. The rock fall probably happened that night. It was pretty early, but its likely that at least a few cars had come upon the rocks, dodged them successfully, and driven right on. So I think I knew the others would stop and help, but did not quite know why. And now I do.

People have a huge capacity to do the right thing if given a good example.
 
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"The crazy that is Portland can be stunning at times. I hear you brother. I looked into CERT, and thought that their best capability would be communicating with the first responders who entered from outside of the area. So I passed on that, but stay in touch with some CERT folks so I can tap that source if and when. I pitched moving outside of town to my wife...nope. Finally I hit the right note which was "lets build an outbuilding to the highest standards out there and we'll rent it out until we need it"...say, if we were sitting on the san andreas fault and wanted a place to live after a horrific quake. That's what we did and it's being rented month to month and providing income. Likely that everything will burn down anyway in the catastrophe of a massive quake.

Have water and multiple filter styles (steripen, MSR, Lifestraw etc) enough for us and a few others, enough food for near a year. Finally we bought a remote place we go vacation to that's about a 4 day walk with packs, and stocked that as well. Last night the car in front of the house had it's window smashed some some lowlife. She's finally starting to look at out of town options in Washington...the acreage with a stream thing. I've worked on her for years, so maybe it will happen"

Boy, I do hear ya. And applaud your efforts to mitigate a Cascadia event.

Took me years of slowly working to persuade my wife to move, will be gone next year.

I believe that CERT is useful, has a place, and could be effectively utilized but there are a lot of "ifs" during a Cascadia. I think Portland city government is optimistic about the usefulness of CERTs.

I think CERT can be very useful in less catastrophic events, and indeed, around the nation there are examples of that. There have been a few medium sized events in Portland during which CERTs were very useful.

But Cascadia will be...... well, it's impossible to describe how devastating it will be, how widespread and far reaching, but I'm convinced that I don't want to be here when it happens.

One of my CERT members was proud they had had their home retro-fitted to withstand X level of shaking (which is laudable, if very, very expensive) but hadn't considered what Portland and the region will be like for months and years, post-Cascadia. No utilities, no jobs, no security, difficult to travel - even by foot - - slowly that will change. But when I mentioned that she will likely still have a mortgage and property taxes to pay (maybe there would be some debt forgiveness but, I for one, wouldn't count on it), I could see the realization of that (plus the home equity loan for the seismic upgrade) flowing across her face and she sort of croaked, "Oh, my, I hadn thought of that".

The problem with a Cascadia event is that it is expected to occur along an 800 mile front and will seriously affect the entirety of Oregon, Washington, a large part of N California and much of Idaho. It's not just the west side of those states, roads, bridges, overpasses, some buildings on the east will be damaged, closed, fuel, food, etc, will suddenly be limited to what's on the shelves. The closer to the Cascades the greater the impact.

So much comes through the ports (well, pre-Biden, anyway) in Oregon and Washington that supplies the region, things everywhere in the PNW will be unavailable or severely limited for an undetermined period.

The scale of it has convinced me that, especially as I age, I don't want to be in Portland. It's a plus that I've been wanting to move to an area I like way better, especially for the outdoor activities, so I'm seeing this as a giant win-win for me and the family.

Edit to add this: The training provided the CERTs in Portland continues to be disappointing, and likely dangerous as a recent example from a fellow CERT demonstrates. This furthers my belief that these volunteers will less effective than the city thinks they will be. And may be harmed in the process of helping others.

My friend went to a CPR training presented by an employee of the city's emergency management department. My friend is an experienced volunteer disaster responder and a volunteer fireman. He's done CPR and used AEDs.

The employee said that you don't need a barrier device, taught that you do mouth to mouth, you will not bruise or break any ribs doing compressions, your first step should be to get the AED that is in every building (they aren't), use the device without doing a preliminary assessment of the patient, that the AED will work on a full dressed person(it won't) , that a patients body does not involuntarily move when shocked by an AED, and that a patient will vomit.

My friend politely challenged the employee on some of these points. He was told that the employee "was an EMT-B" as though that explained everything. Except that the employee is not working for the city as a medical person. The employee works in a office, primarily as a trainer. As my friend told me, "anyone can take the EMT-B training but it doesn't mean you're certified by the state of Oregon as an EMT-B". This is an example of volunteers being trained by a city employee with zero emergency medical experience. But if there's a difference of opinion the employee gets the last word.
Sounds like government
 
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Once upon a time my boyfriend of the era and I were driving back along HWY 34 from the coast to Corvallis. I was a young broad. Boyfriend, recent California immigrant, was driving. His reaction time was fast and the car was small and nimble. Good thing. We were driving around a sharp curve in the road, a spot between Waldport and Alcea where there was a cliff straight up on our left and a cliff straight down on our right, and suddenly there were rocks blocking the road. Boyfriend managed to dodge between the rocks.

"Pull over!" I said. "We've got to get the rocks off the road. Someone going a little faster or in a bigger car or with a slower reaction time might go over the edge." He pulled over, but then looked a bit doubtfully at the rock slide area behind us. There were several dozen rocks up to about a foot across and three bigger ones two to three feet across.

I got out the flares and we each set one at either side beyond the places where the curve began. That was fun. I had carried flares for years but had never lit one. And I breathed a sigh of relief. Nobody would be piling up on the rocks or losing control and going over the cliff. Then we dug leather gloves out of our packs and started moving rocks to the roads shoulder.

About two minutes later a car, warned by our flare, came slowly, cautiously around the bend and pulled over immediately behind our car. A man and women got out and, without saying a word, pulled on gloves and started moving rocks. Then came a car with a guy coming from the other way. He, too, pulled over, put on gloves, and without a word to anyone, began moving rocks. Next came two guys in a pickup truck. They, too, put on gloves and without a word started moving rocks. Within about fifteen minutes about eight cars or trucks had stopped. Every vehicle that came by in either direction pulled over and its passengers , without saying a word, started moving rocks.We now had a dozen people, about four women and eight men, all gloved, all moving rocks. And we were running out of the smaller rocks. Now we had enough people to move the three big rocks. Soon the road was completely clear. We all took our gloves off, cheered and congratulated and high fived each other, and took off on our respective ways.

My boyfriend drove in silence for a few minutes, then said, "That's the most amazing thing I've ever seen. Did you know that was going to happen?"

"What?" I said.

"Did you know everyone would stop and help?"

"Sure." I responded, shrugging.

"In California, people expect state utility trucks and crews to do that sort of thing."

"Its likely four hours to the closest utility truck or crew and another four before it could get here. And there would probably be a few hundred cars or trucks coming around that bend in eight hours. And it took us only about twenty minutes to clear the road.

"Yeah. Yeah. It makes sense. But in California people expect society to take care of such things."

"My society DID take care of the problem, I said. "We were the part of society that was available."

Now, decades later, as an old broad, I reflect and think deeper. How did I know the others would stop and help? And why? At the time I attributed it to something essential about Oregonians. Now I realize that its more complicated. And being Oregonian is part of it, but probably just a small part. And its likely we weren't the very first to come on the rock slide that morning. The rock fall probably happened that night. It was pretty early, but its likely that at least a few cars had come upon the rocks, dodged them successfully, and driven right on. So I think I knew the others would stop and help, but did not quite know why. And now I do.

People have a huge capacity to do the right thing if given a good example.
True. I have been part of initial reaction in several instances over my lifetime.

Currently, the reaction time of utilities is much longer than before. One side effect is that this slows the reaction of other agencies. For instance, the County waited several days to clear roads about ten years ago because the power company had not cleared downed wires. The County could not direct workers to work near the downed lines because the power company had not marked them as "cold." It was a safety issue. Private citizens, in spite of the power companies advertising, often determine if the wires are "cold" and acted accordingly. They are taking responsibility for their own safety. I believe that this sort of action is going away, due to modern education trying to instill compliance instead of critical thinking.
 

Horatius

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True. I have been part of initial reaction in several instances over my lifetime.

Currently, the reaction time of utilities is much longer than before. One side effect is that this slows the reaction of other agencies. For instance, the County waited several days to clear roads about ten years ago because the power company had not cleared downed wires. The County could not direct workers to work near the downed lines because the power company had not marked them as "cold." It was a safety issue. Private citizens, in spite of the power companies advertising, often determine if the wires are "cold" and acted accordingly. They are taking responsibility for their own safety. I believe that this sort of action is going away, due to modern education trying to instill compliance instead of critical thinking.
To Quote the show Yellowstone, "we are all being taught we are sheep, when a wolf shows up, we are supposed to call the shepherd."
 
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we live between the 2 forks of the Lewis River
this area was isolated and self sufficient until they built the bridges during WW2
I feel we could be self sufficient again
there is still an operating grist mill out here
I talked to an engineer employed at the hydro dam at Ariel
he told me they have the ability to switch to local service in time of disaster
 

OldBroad44

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To Quote the show Yellowstone, "we are all being taught we are sheep, when a wolf shows up, we are supposed to call the shepherd."
Our schools especially these days try to teach students to be sheep. Fortunately most schools aren't effective at teaching much of anything.

The government has been trying to teach citizens to be sheep with respect to self defense in nearly every state where I've lived my entire 75 year life. Fortunately government is in most cases even less effective at teaching than the schools, and is becoming less and less effective with every passing riot or unanswered 911 call.
 

OldBroad44

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My mom's family came to Oregon in a covered wagon My Great Grandmother was a baby on that trip. taking care of oneself was expected, helping your neighbors the norm. CITY LIFE SUCKS:s0054:
I sympathize. But courage and initiative are not exclusive to the wilds beyond cities or to strongly physical dramatic acts. I once ran downstairs with a gun in my pocket in response to a woman's scream and chased off a would-be rapist. Was that a huge act of courage? Naw. It was a little bitty act of courage I think. At best. The biggest act of courage in my life was walking through the door of my mothers house in Virginia as a middle-aged broad, knowing that from that moment I would be responsible for my mother for the rest of her life. I brought her back to Corvallis and took care of her for ten years while she slowly died of Alzheimers. By the end she didn't know who I was, didn't even remember having children. She died holding my hand. That was the hardest thing I ever did.

When I was on the faculty at University of Minnesota, a somewhat abortive experience, one part time technician in my lab was a 20-year-old woman. She was a biochem major, had a 4.0 average, was working 15 hrs/week in my lab...and was guardian of eight younger siblings!

The family, Catholic, had twelve children when both parents were killed in a car accident. The kids very much wanted to stay together. There was insurance that would support them. But who could take on the adult responsibility for the eleven kids who were still minors at home?The oldest daughter was already married with children of her own. Here's what the family did. A grandmother moved in with them for one year and became guardian. The second oldest kid moved away into a university of Minnesota college dorm for one year to experience freedom and become established as a college student and adult. Then she moved back home, became guardian of her younger siblings, and continued going to college full time, and grandmother moved out. Meanwhile, the third oldest kid moved out into a University of Minnesota dorm and had a year of freedom and independence to establish herself in college and become an adult. Then kid number 3 moved back home, took guardianship of the younger kids, kid number two moved out, and kid #4, my lab tech, took her year of freedom and adaptation to college and adulthood. When she came to work for me, she was back at home, going to college full time, and guardian of her eight younger siblings, ages 4 to 16.

I asked her how she managed. Pretty easily she claimed. They all realized that they would need to share the work in order to stay together. And the older kids took care of the younger. The guardian mostly just needed to do the paperwork and deal with emergencies. Amazing people.
 
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I asked her how she managed. Pretty easily she claimed. They all realized that they would need to share the work in order to stay together. And the older kids took care of the younger. The guardian mostly just needed to do the paperwork and deal with emergencies. Amazing people.
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There are still people out there that understand responsibility. I have a friend who is a single mother, that has worked 2-3 concurrent jobs, cared for her minor child who had major health problems, then cared for her grandchildren for about a year until the other grandparents could adopt them.
 
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