Oregon sets up evacuation assembly point in case of disasters

TILLAMOOK, Ore. (KGW) — Oregon now has additional resources if a disaster were to strike. The state just set up its first evacuation assembly point, a short-term location for people to gather during emergencies like wildfires, flooding or a catastrophic earthquake while first responders work to access the impacted area.

The state’s Office of Resilience and Emergency Management (OREM) supplied Tillamook County with two boxes that contain food, water, tents and medical supplies to support 100 people in the evacuation assembly point, or EAP, for two weeks in the event of an emergency.

 “It could happen 100 years from now, it can happen next week, so it’s incumbent upon us to prepare,” said Mary Faith Bell, a Tillamook County commissioner.

The evacuation assembly point is located at Tillamook Municipal Airport.

All 17 EAP tents were set up on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of an emergency preparedness exercise. OREM, the lead state agency for mass care (e.g. shelter, food and water) has staged these supplies in Tillamook because coastal communities will be isolated from responders in the immediate aftermath of a Cascadia earthquake.

“There’s a triage here, there’s a comms center, there are tents, there’s a shower system, which is pretty cool,” said Bell.

During this exercise, OREM trained 38 community leaders and volunteers on how to set up the EAP. It took them less than four hours.

 “I think it’s awesome for the community,” said Tillamook County resident, Kaylin Hammond. “We have a small community but we all love to come together so that’s going to be honor through this process.”

Commissioner Bell told KGW if an earthquake hits and bridges fail, people may not be able to reach the airport and supplies— but there’s a solution for that: drones.

“Load-bearing drones are really exciting because the state will bring the supplies here, and then will be able to use load-bearing drones and helicopters to take supplies to isolated communities along the coast,” said Bell.

The director of Oregon Department of Human Services said the 2020 wildfires in Oregon jump-started the preparedness efforts that may be needed in the future.

“A devastating event, but it was also a good wake-up call for a lot of us— as to what level of readiness, equipment and staffing we need,” said Fariborz Pkseresht.

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