Here on the Oregon Coast, they tell us there is 30% chance we'll have a major earthquake in the next 50 years. How do they know? Watch this video I found on youtube.
The guy in the video says we get long rolling earthquake waves, and wood structures do well in these, so they are survivable. Most of our homes are made of wood. Many businesses are made of cement or brick, and these don't fare as well. The tsunami, of course, will destroy many low lying buildings.
There will be a huge loss of infrastructure like water, sewer, electricity and roads. That's why preparation is important. You will most likely live through the earthquake, but it will be a loooong time until those basic utilities will return. Do you want to suffer, or do you want to have your basic needs met?
You could wait on the government to come help you. That didn't work so well with the victims of hurricane Katrina. The need was so vast, it took weeks for help to get to all the people. A Cascadia earthquake could be on a much greater scale. 600 miles of coastline will be affected.
Or you could help yourself. Educate yourself on what to do before, during and after an earthquake. Store up supplies. To simplify supplies, think about what you would need for camping, but you will be at home. The post "Before the Quake, part 2" will discuss what you need.
How many supplies? The government officially says 3 days, but after Katrina it took much longer than for help to come. I would say you should have supplies for a minimum of two weeks. Four weeks would be better. By then, there should be ways to evacuate. They tell us it may be months before the infrastructure is rebuilt, so if you don't want to evacuate, you will need more supplies.
Do you live or work in the tsunami zone? What part of town will be damaged by the tsunami, making it hard to travel? This website shows you the tsunami zones for the entire coast, along with the bridges (which may collapse), police stations, fire stations and assembly areas where you can go for help.
Find your home, your workplace, your children's school and your friends and family's homes. Look at the map and think about different scenarios. See if there are routes between work and home that are not in the zone. Think about how you could travel to your children's school or daycare.
If you live in a tsunami zone, you may want to find a friend or family member above the zone and make a plan together. Ask if you can store supplies at their home and let them know you will be showing up immediately following the earthquake and will be planning to set up camp in their backyard.
There are a lot of scary exaggerated videos out there saying we are all going to die. I don't think it's something to be scared about as it may or may not even happen in our lifetime. But it's important to prepare, just in case. Truly, I think a financial disaster is much more likely to happen in our lifetime, but that's much harder to prepare for. However, if you have some food stored, you at can eat, whether we have an earthquake or a market crash.