Going Up! Ocasta Gets Ready

Westport sits on a spit of land at the south end of Grays Harbor, Washington. The town is surrounded by water on three sides making it a prime target when “the big one” hit.

It’s now taken as a given that the question isn’t “if,” but “when” the Cascadia Subduction Zone will trigger a major earthquake and tsunami.

Given that September is Disaster Preparedness Month, we took to the road to check out how Ocasta became the most prepared district on the coast.

Dr. Paula Akerlund is the Superintendent of the Ocasta School District. The just-completed elementary school is the home of the only “vertical evacuation” structure in North America. Voters passed a $13.8 million bond a few years ago.

With the help of structural engineers and architects came plans for the new school that can provide shelter for 2,000 people for as long as two weeks. That’s more than enough to keep students safe. With a population of just over 2,000, it’s even enough to house the entire community. A new school year in the new building begins September 7.

The median household income in Westport, WA averages just over $30,000 a year, well below the state average of $58,000. After two failed attempts at passing a school bond, voters approved a $13.8 million levy to replace the aging elementary school.

The groundbreaking featured school kids using clam guns instead of the ceremonial shovel. The plan is to pay off the bond over 20 years.

Other districts are not moving as quickly as Westport. Seaside, OR schools are also at risk to be affected by an earthquake-triggered tsunami. High school students there are concerned enough to start their own fundraising effort to build a new facility.

Seaside student have taken their concerns to the Oregon Legislature. The Oregon School Board Association says they “listened with enthusiasm, complimenting the students for the work done on this important issue and offering to assist with any needed legislation in the next … session.”

Tall Ships on the Columbia: Fire When Ready

Lady Washington StampUpdate to “The Passage” post
This is a brand new video from our blog friend, Portdaddia, who took the family on the Lady Washington “Battle Cruise” from Hood River, OR this weekend.

The Lady Washington was rigged according to custom of the 1780s with 168 different lines, crewed by 14. The Hawaiian Chieftain was circa 1850, a bit smaller, and needed only 10 crew with fewer sails and lines.

The captain was a professional and the remaining crew were volunteers, the newest having to pay to sail on the ship for two weeks to gain basic skills. The crew were not characters in an historical re-creation, rather people trying to give tourists a taste of sailing from a few centuries ago, wearing traditional garments and sensible footwear.

Read the complete Portdaddia post from June 3, 2013 here.

The Passage

Original post from May 6, 2013

It’s been more than ten years since I’ve been aboard the tall ship, Lady Washington. My brief visit was during one of her stays at the Columbia River Maritime Museum.

I was working for KVAS Radio at 1490 Marine Drive and as part of the media stop got to stay onboard for one night as a crew member.

We all were responsible for a shift as a night watchman Staying awake wasn’t a problem as the below-deck hammocks aren’t built for comfort.

If the same protocol was in place now as when the Lady Washington’s predecessor was at sea, punishment for falling asleep on watch could be severe:

It is not the easiest matter in the world to get these sleeping hundreds out of their hammocks and at their posts on deck, in a reasonable time, and without noise or disorder. There are always skulkers, who, secure from passing observation, prefer the comforts of additional moments between their blankets, to a speedy exposure to the weather; To break up this practice, no means of punishment tried, has ever succeeded, but the application of the lash. -Naval handbook, 1885

Related articles