Ocosta tsunami school hopes to be example for coastal communities

Ear to the Ground

Ocosta students use golden clam guns to break ground on a new school that will double as a tsunami evacuation structure at Westport. Ocosta students use golden clam guns to break ground on a new school that will double as a tsunami evacuation structure at Westport.

Students armed with golden clam guns broke ground on the nation’s first vertical evacuation structure at Westport Thursday, kicking off construction of a project emergency officials hope will be imitated along the Cascadia subduction zone.

The Ocosta School District is building a new elementary school in Westport that includes the tsunami refuge atop the gymnasium.

Westport lies just off the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a 600-mile-long fault that runs from northern California to Vancouver Island, leaving it vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis.

When built, the tsunami refuge will be capable of holding more than 1,000 people atop the 30-foot building designed to withstand both a megathrust Cascadia earthquake and the pounding of tsunami waves.

“If a tsunami were to strike, there wouldn’t be much time to get to higher…

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