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By Jim Cornelius
News Editor 

Emergency preparedness gets real in Sisters


Last updated 11/2/2021 at Noon

Bare shelves due to staffing shortages and the slow or nonexistent delivery of goods due to a frayed supply chain are just a foretaste of what might befall Sisters Country in the event of a major disaster (see related story above).

Residents who have been caught short on everything from toilet paper to prescriptions are getting a sharp reminder of just how vulnerable our just-in-time-oriented society can be.

Sisters Country is vulnerable to wildfire and severe winter storms that can cut power and isolate people in their homes. The most extreme scenario is a major earthquake along the Cascadia subduction zone, where the small Juan de Fuca Plate that abuts the North American continent is sliding under that continental


Sometime in a window of 250 to 350 years, the plates under tension along the northwest coast will slip, producing a massive earthquake. The last time it happened was on January 26, 1700. So, we’re currently within the window of another major subduction zone quake.

Such a quake would resemble the massive quake that rocked Japan in March 2011. That would cause a significant disruption of services — from electrical power to food and fuel deliveries — to Central Oregon, disruption that would make current problems look quaint.

Althea Rizzo, Ph.D. is the geological hazards program coordinator with the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.

She reports that when the quake hits, “it appears Sisters will be in for some strong shaking.

It’s hard to predict exactly what kind of damage to infrastructure there will be, but it’s likely Sisters could be without power, water, and wastewater for several weeks to months, depending on the extent of damage.

There will be impacts to transportation systems between Sisters and the Willamette Valley due to landslides and liquefaction.

This damage could take years to repair.

Transportation on Highway 97 shouldn’t be impacted too severely and will be available for bringing goods into the area within a few weeks.”

Residents of Sisters Country will be forced into a higher level of self-reliance and self-sufficiency than any of us are used to.

“The important takeaway is that a Cascadia Subduction Zone quake will impact even Central and Eastern Oregon, especially in the ability to purchase consumer goods (think of the toilet paper shortages due to the pandemic),” Dr. Rizzo said. “The Oregon Office of Emergency Management recommends that families and communities should plan to be self-sufficient for at least two weeks following any disaster.”

According to the 2 Weeks Ready website, being 2 Weeks Ready:

•?Takes pressure off first responders so they can triage effectively and attend to life-threatening situations.

•?Ensures you and your family can survive if roads are impassable, and no one can reach you with help or supplies.

•?Encourages neighbors to care for one another, along with other vulnerable populations.

Disasters – large and small – can strike any time. Taking simple steps today can pay huge dividends when the next emergency arrives. The Oregon Office of Emergency Management’s 2 Weeks Ready program encourages Oregonians to be prepared.

•?Sign up for emergency alerts in the Sisters area at OR-Alert,

•?Make sure your cell phone has Wireless Emergency Alerts enabled (

•?Know evacuation routes.

•?Learn how to develop an emergency plan and discuss the plan with your household, loved ones, friends, and neighbors.

•?Practice the elements of the plan so you’ll be ready when a disaster occurs.

•?Being prepared means being equipped with at least two weeks’ worth of food, water, and critical supplies. Learn how to assemble an emergency supply kit at or American Red Cross.

•?Prepare a pet evacuation kit in a tote bag or pet crate.

•?Keep your supplies in an easy-to-carry backpack, bucket, or bag that you can use at home or take with you in an emergency.

•?Everyone’s kit will look different. There is no one correct way to put together two weeks’ worth of supplies since everyone has individual needs.

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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