tv America Tonight Al Jazeera April 7, 2016 12:30am-1:01am EDT
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going to take this and appropriate manner until we're dragging dead bodies out of buildings good evening. thanks for joining us. this special edition of america tonight. just off the coast of the pacific north-west lies a potential killer, a 700 million long geological fault line called the kerr cascadiasubducti, on zone. the big one. it lies far out to sea. hidden beneath the waves. the waiting earthquake. >> i try and look as it could happen any day this man is a regional manager for the federal emergency management agency in the pacific north-west.
one of these earthquakes could be a monster. >> i think people are just not mentally or physically prepared to think about how bad something that large can be. >> the earthquake is supposed to be about a 9.0, maybe 9.1 earthquake which is going to rock and roll everything around here for three to five minutes chuck wallac is for greys harbour county on the washing coast. >> they believe the biggest wave we will have is 22 feet in this area here. however, there is a plus and minus 30% on that. so it could be 30 feet high. you're not only getting went wave but multiple waves all around the coast of the pacific sew shan there is tension where the plate slides under, colonel ideas with and
sticks on the technical tonic-- techtonic plaits and when those plates break free the result is catastrophic, something that until recently scientists thought was impossible in the pacific north-west. >> people made really what i would call arm waving arguments to say we don't see earthquakes. there are no earthquakes all that changed with clever detective work, clues put together buy scientifics. evidence of a giant earth quake and tsunam i that hit on tragic january night in 1700. long before the arrival of the first european settlors and a written record. >> science people - this woman, a research scientist began to collect the
stories of native americans >> the key story for he was the person who was telling the story said "my father told me that at the time the thunder bird thought the whale was a jumping up and a shaking of the earth beneath and a rolling up of the great waters". these elements of shaking or flooding, they were able to trace that up and down the coast tails from a generation long ago of shaking earth, a giant wave of ccanoes left in trees and entire villages washed away on a single winter night. all this from a time when european map makers, the pacific north-west, was a great unknown, undiscovered, unchartered and unexplored. to learn about the legend and hear the stories, we travelled
into the heart of vancouver island, british columbia, down to an acqer, village of the first people. >> we have our big meetings here where we met with tribal leaderer. he has histories recorded from more than 50 years ago. >> the people that had gone to bed at night had felt the ground shake. shortly after that, that's when they noticed the big wave coming in. then it's that wave that wiped out the village down there. >> i will go to my favourite spot dennis took me down to the place where the village once stood in the tsunam i's path. on the water's edge an inlet facing the pacific what did the community look like? where were people living? >> it would look like the most obvious thing that they would be living along the beach and the river so when the wave came, it
came right up the inlet? >> yeah. we're talking something huge coming in here because of how shallow it is there. i've been taught that events in this world have happened that have been so big that they've been able to move the whale out of the water because native americans didn't use calendars to keep track in time as the same way of europeans, the stories gave no date. another clue came from far away in 1960. a mass of earth quake in chili a deadly storm which reached japan 24 hours later. this from an earthquake a thousand miles away was a revelation and it gaves researchers there an idea. >> the idea is that a tsunam i comes from another place, and you don't know where brian atwater is a geologist. >> in the aftermath of the disaster, japanese experts said
what other ones do we have in our history that came from peru or chili when the reckoning was finished there was one tsunam i with no match, one in january 1700. searching for the earthquake which caused that or fan tsunam i researchers looked to the pacific north-west. >> this is probably the most distinct there they found irrefutable geological proof in a cross-section of marsh land. >> the soil of an marsh down here, then sand mutt layers like that-- mud layers like that. each of these are interpreted as a wave in the train of the evening of 26 january 1700 by the japanese dating there's one more clue from the 1700 earthquake and tsunam i. a piece of
evidence pointing to the zones ability to produce what geologists call a giant earth quake, registering a magnitude 9 or higher. high school science teacher john harwood took us out onto the elk wood river. itch >> i see a tree and another one here to look for ghost trees. >> these things are like monday ewe meant-- monuments sticking out of the ground like this one, a western red cedar, dead 300 years but still standing. >> the best guest is this tree died as a result of the earthquake in 1700 the tree stands as an historical marker and as a warning. >> the tree is a dieter are here to say, this is probably going to happen again there's something else
geologists have learned. another earthquake and tsunam i could come at any time. >> simple math tells us we're on the windows. >> take cover under a desk coming up, what is being done to prepare for the worst if another monster earthquake and tsunam i. >> i told everyone that no help is coming. you need to plan that no help is coming.
emergency planners are warning seattle appeared the west of the pacific north-west about the coming magnitude 9 earthquake. how the ground will shake violently for four to six minutes, how that will followed by a tsunami that could be as high as 30 to 40 feet. the question is not if there will be an an earthquake, but when, and it could come at any time. >> this entire area that we're in now older brick buildings this man thinks seattle is unprepared for a major earthquake and he shows me why. in an older section of the city down town buildings dating back a century. >> this district you just need
to look at it head of the emergency management for 11 years, he says seattle has 800 unreinforced buildings. >> they would likely pancake in an earth quake. the walls will separate from the building and the floors fall down. we're talking like the hades earthquake where structure collapsed on top of one another are cities and community doing what they need to do in order to protect their citizens? >> i don't think this state is going to take the safety in an appropriate until we're dragging dead bodies out of buildings. for these older structures, this was built before anyone knew anything about says seismic risk geologyists now understand
the empty reinis at risk of a storm. >> two plates pushing against each other, one over the top of the other the cascadia zone has produced giant earthquakes every 300 to 500 years. the last one was 315 years ago. should the big one hit, this man is the one who will be in charge of the federal government response. he knows scientists predict the next quake could be a monster magnitude 9. what is an earthquake at 9.0 or more look like? >> you don't know how long it will shake, what way the movement of the ground is going to move up or down, left or right or all the above, which can damage bridges, roads, tunnels, communications lines that are buried underground, natural gas, water lines you could have water systems fail so people don't have water to drink
here is a washington state department of transportation of a magnitude 7 earthquake with the especially center closer to down town seattle showing how vulnerable the city's infrastructure is. a cascadia earthquake could be a magnitude 9 or above. one hundred times more powerful. >> take cover under a desk or a table at this school children prepare for an earth quake in an annual drill. >> stay under until t building has been declared safe because no-one knows when earthquakes are coming. >> we are going to evacuate it is said it is hard to get people focused on earthquake preparations. >> across our country we have different seasons, tornao, season. i tell everyone that every day is earthquake season
an earthquake is one risk from the cascadia abduction zone. because the earthquake would cause water up heavily, a tsunami is sure to follow and tsunamis have been deadlier than erodes wakes historically. just look at what happened in japan in 2011. after a magnitude 9 quake, tsunami waves the height of a two-storey building rolled in. nearly 16,000 died. 90% drowning in the tsunami waves. >> we will actually have more deaths and injuries from the tsunami than actually from the earthquake. we're talking in the thousands and we're talking people that could be homeless in the millions, there will be tremendous very bad effects on the community in washington and oregan would mean waves 30 to 40 feet
high with the first wave hitting the shore line 15 to 30 minutes after the earthquake. chuck wallace is director in emergency management. do people here understand the cascadia zone, do they understand the risk? >> i think they do to get a better look at the challenges facing coastal communities, he took me up an observation tower on the coast. >> i think once the tsunami waves come and they will be coming from right where you're looking at right out in front of us, you're just hoping you can get to higher ground even though roads are marked with tsunami evacuation roots, he says the earth quake that proceeds the tsunami will maybe the roads undrivable. that means walking to higher ground. the math is not encouraging. a tsunami is likely to hit within half an hour of an earthquake. the high ground from here in
west port is a 50-minute walk. in case you were wondering, wallace says this tower would not survive a tsunami. there's more. a tsunami isn't like a wind generated wave, the kind you see at the beach. they're caused by the sea jerking upwards causing a massive wall of water. >> the wave is vines and vines of water that comes in. it will move and destroy everything, and the biggest part is, once it comes through and it starts receding, more than likely you're going to have two/three tlsh four wave and the second wave is going to take the debris that was created from the first wave and now that becomes a battering ram. so it starts banging into the walls and destroying more property, cars become battering rams, trees, everything becomes a battering ram
across the bay from west port, ocean shores. their option is? >> their etchings is to get to the highest place you can get to as quickly as you can get to and wait. you just hold on and hope for the best coming up, hoping for the best. >> we're going to be prepared the best we can, and that's about all you can do and preparing for the worst. >> but we know that we face an earthquake tsunami hazard . here. that's our biggest threat the tale of two schools in the bulls eye of the cascadia tsunami.
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for more than 300 years the last time an earthquake hit here the continental plate had been locked with a plate under the pacific. they're stuck along a 700 million stretch called the cascadia subduction zone. that has geologists taking notice. when they suddenly get unstuck, then you can get very big earthquakes big earthquakes happen offshore, and they're often followed by big tsunamis. >> the tsunami is set-off by the warping of the ocean floor that raises the water column in some areas and lowers it in others the wars case scenario in a-- worse case scenario in a big open ocean tsunami a 30 to 40 foot wall of water barrelling to shore with residents only get 15 to 30 minutes start to reach the safety of higher ground
>> we're also than half a mile from the ocean. the cascadia subduction zone is about 50 miles up our coast. we face an earthquake tsunami hazard here this is a school superintendent in west port when will this be finished? >> in march she worries about that threat. when she started planning for a knew elementary school she decided to see if local residents would agree to pay more, about 20% more, to make sure the town school children could survive an earthquake and tsunami. she met me there in the structure during torrential rain >> our topography here is similar to japan. people are aware of the possible risk involved. they wanted to see their children safe. so they are willing to put their heart and tax dollars to this purpose the school district which
serves west port and four smaller communities has pacific ocean on one side and a bay on the other. ocean shores, another community flanked by water is another school district. elementary. >> we will be prepared as best we can. that's about all you can do dave is assistant superintendent and head of school safety committee. he is well aware of the earthquake and tsunami risk. you've described this school building as a stick building >> correct what does that mean? >> wood. it's basically that and stick buildings typically are what we see in this area, pacific north west how would this building do? >> stick buildings are, obviously, not as substantial in their ability to withstand a direct tsunami this woman is the principal at ocean shores elementary. she has planned for the worst case scenario
kids? >> all of our students drop cover and hold on. once the shaking stops, then we evacuate up if the second floor isn't high enough, and there is a good chance it won't be, they go up to the storage space under the eves of the third floor >> that's pretty steep it is a steep alert. we have our-- ladder. we have our six graders practice so they get comfortable with going up and down this ladder the little kids help? >> they help the little ones up, yes, along with our staff can we go up? >> you bet they're really steep. okay. then where do they go? >> then they come in here. we have all the kids have an emergency supply kit this is full of high voltage equipment.
no power after an earthquake? >> you hope in this case more than likely we're probably not going to have power, but we also have an emergency switch that one of my staff members is assigned to flip that off getting out, if you can't go back down those stairs, your only way is through the roof? >> correct you would get out there the roof how? >> so we're looking at one of two means right now. one is we're going to get some type of hatchet or battery-powered chainsaw this building, is it engineered to withstand a nine magnitude earthquake? >> we hope so, but it is not an earthquake, you know, established school. it wasn't built for that in west port physical superintendent helped to convince voters to support an
8.9 million dollars bond issue nor a new school. included in the plan the model is on the best that survived the japanese quake and tsunami and a roof over the gym designed as a vertical tsunami refuge, the first of its kind in north america. all because voters in this working class beach side town saw a risk. >> the pilings go 50 feet drowned and these are anchored into the foundations. there's a tonne of rebar in these walls these are heavily reinforced? >> yes. this is the roof the roof is 58 feet above the ground, more than 80 feet above sea level. big enough for all 700 students as well as the staff. a thousand or more people in all. the doors will be open to anyone
who can get there in the event of danger could you do that here? >> i think there would have to be some work done you're telling me this community is not ready? >> i'm not going to say that. we have to keep educating our folks. it's a matter of life and death and time. the longer you wait the more chance you run the risk of something happening. money is a big issue. i will say that >> i think people saw what happened in indonesia and japan. i think that they realized that we are not immune one other community that is making plans for disaster, the huawett. where history passed from generation to generation, tells of the earth shaking and the giant wave that washed hundreds away >> we're going to build up on higher ground. people living down there will have an opportunity to have a house built up here to move away from the danger
>> yes he has got it by science and by a story that his grandfather told him more than half a century ago >> this wild old man must have known that this was not the only event. he must have known that there is going to be another event in the future. and i want to prepare my people for it thanks again for joining us on this specialed ignores of-- special edition of america tonight. talk to us or come back and we tonight tomorrow. >> we can save species. >> macaw are at risk of dissappearing in the wild. >> we are on the tipping point of an ecological disaster.
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