Tsunami ‘towers’ proposed in North Beach School District bond

Feb 8, 2022, 10:35 AM
tsunami, Washington coast...
The Washington coast. (Photo by John Murphy/Flickr, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
(Photo by John Murphy/Flickr, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A bond being voted on by a local school district would decide whether or not to build tsunami protection structures at schools.

The $110 million Safety 4 Students construction bond would help Ocean Shores’ North Beach School District build a new Pacific Beach Elementary School outside of the tsunami hazard zone. It would also allow for two tsunami “towers” to be built on top of the district’s other two schools.

These towers would be large rooms built a few stories above the schools, high enough to be safe from the 20-foot or higher waves that geologists predict could hit after “the big one” — the 9.0 Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake that has an estimated 10-15% chance of hitting in the next 50 years.

New study details ‘startling’ effect tsunami would have on Western Washington

North Beach Superintendent Andrew Kelly said the towers would have a base height of 40 feet or so, and would be built with strong enough materials to stay standing during the onslaught.

“We would be able to evacuate all of our kids, all of our educators from the school, and still have room to welcome about 350 to 400 community members up into that space,” Kelly said.

The 25-year bond would replace a current bond that runs homeowners 49 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or about $150 on a $300,000 house annually. This new bond would cost $1.75 per $1,000, or $525 for a $300,000 house. That means it would be more than triple the expiring bond’s rate.

Kelly said that in the event of a Cascadia Subduction Zone tsunami, the projects paid for by this bond would save the lives of the district’s students.

“We have an evacuation plan to go up to the second story of the school, but we know now with the science that whatever wave comes through would be higher than the second story,” he said. “We would lose all of our kids.”

He explained that the entire town of Ocean Shores sits in the tsunami hazard zone. He does not believe it would be feasible for everyone to outrun the tsunami in their cars.

“If you survive the earthquake, we know we’ve got about 20 minutes until the wave gets here, and no way to get out of town. … We’re a community of about 10,000 people, and there’s no evacuation plan for anyone, really, other than trying to drive out the one-lane road that leaves town,” Kelly said.

And that’s assuming the roads are even intact.

“Given the kind of seismic event it takes to generate a tsunami, people really doubt whether the roads will even be passable,” Kelly added.

Critics of the bond say it is too expensive for something that may not even happen this century. But Kelly likens it to insurance — preparing for something that you hope you will never need.

“We buy insurance for all sorts of things all the time that we’re not sure is going to happen, but we do it to try to keep ourselves and our families safe,” he said.

Local News

corrections jail cell...
MyNorthwest Staff

Corrections officer pay increasing 15% as staffing shortages hit critical levels

King County Corrections needs to fill roughly 100 vacant positions. To incentivize new hires, the union recently voted to raise standard hourly wage by 15%.
13 hours ago
tiktok challenge...
MyNorthwest Staff

Viral TikTok challenge to steal Kias, Hyundais grabs law enforcement’s attention

The Puget Sound Auto Theft Task-Force (PSATT) is warning drivers of a viral "TikTok challenge" that shows people how to steal certain Kia and Hyundais.
13 hours ago
crime organized theft bellevue...
Darren Dedo

The Crime Blotter: Three organized retail theft rings busted in Bellevue 

Darren Dedo reports on overnight crime on the morning of Aug. 11.
13 hours ago
The West Seattle Bridge (SounderBruce via Flickr)...
Chris Sullivan

Nearly 900 days into its closure, the West Seattle Bridge’s reopening date becomes official

It's the news West Seattle has been waiting for.
13 hours ago
Photo from the Associated Press...
Associated Press

Oregon ski area sued over Tacoma child’s death

The parents of a 9-year-old child who died skiing at Mt. Bachelor ski area in central Oregon last year have filed a $49 million wrongful death lawsuit against the resort and its parent company, Powdr Corp.
13 hours ago
Associated Press

Spokane doctor accused in kidnapping for hire plot pleads guilty

A Spokane medical doctor accused of hiring someone on the dark web to kidnap his estranged wife pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of threats in interstate commerce as part of a plea deal.
13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
Tsunami ‘towers’ proposed in North Beach School District bond