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FEMA evaluating major earthquake readiness in Pacific Northwest

FEMA evaluating major earthquake readiness in Pacific Northwest
A large-scale map of the Pacific Northwest used during FEMA's three-day Cascadia Rising 2022: Rehearsal of Concept exercise, being held in Washington. Photo courtesy FEMA Region 10

May 5 (UPI) -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency wrapped up a three-day comprehensive exercise on Thursday, evaluating the readiness of first responders in the event of an earthquake in the Pacific Northwest.

The Cascadia Rising 2022: Rehearsal of Concept at the Pierce County Readiness Center in Camp Murray, Wash., will evaluate FEMA's coordinated response plan to a massive earthquake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone and resulting tsunami.

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Scientists have widely predicted a cataclysmic quake between the Juan de Fuca and North American tectonic plates -- a boundary called the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Officials estimate there's a 37% chance of a 7.1-magnitude quake happening at that boundary in the next 50 years.

Exercise participants included members of state agencies from Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. On a federal level, representatives from FEMA, Department of Defense and American Red Cross were also there, along with those from Emergency Management British Columbia.

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"We know it's only a matter of time before the big one strikes. This exercise helps us coordinate directly with our local and regional partners to build a culture of preparedness across the region. The physical devastation will be significant, and the humanitarian impacts will be felt far beyond the earthquake zone," said FEMA Region 10 Administrator Willie G. Nunn.

"Now is the time to come together, question, and challenge our plan so that when one of the biggest natural disasters to strike our nation takes place, we are ready to act."

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The exercise's Tsunami Response Plan uses a large 35-by-26-foot map to display impacted areas and demonstrate resource allocation, staging, and movement in response to a potential earthquake. Discussions include questions around operational activities, logistics, resource management, and communications for response operations.

The current exercise piggybacks on the Cascadia Rising 2016 Exercise while also forming part of FEMA's National Level Exercise 2022, which examines the ability of all levels of government, private industry and non-governmental organizations to respond to and recover from a large rupture of the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

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