On Friday, the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe and its partners unveiled a vertical evacuation tower intended to save hundreds of people in the event of a tsunami.
TOKELAND, Wash. – A new free-standing vertical evacuation tower, the first of its kind, in Tokeland aims to save hundreds of lives in the event of a tsunami.
The Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe, along with partners from the Washington State Emergency Management Risk Mitigation Team, advisors from the University of Washington, FEMA and other agencies, has unveiled the tower on Friday.
Decades ago, the tribe’s concerns about the threat of a tsunami led them to identify nearby heights – but they wanted to do more. In 2017, the tribe decided they wanted a modeled tower similar to those used in Japan.
For years, tribal leaders worked with the University of Washington and local, state and federal agencies to model a tower, secure grants and begin work on the project.
“We’ve helped change the atmosphere of helpless victims to one of knowing that we can and will survive if we all work together,” said Lee Shipman, director of emergency management and tribal elder for the Shoalwater Indian Tribe. Bay.
Tribal council members rewarded Shipman on Friday, noting they would name the escape tower “Auntie Lee” in honor of his years of hard work and collaboration to complete the project.
The tribe said studies have found a wave as high as 10ft moving at high speed could make landfall in the Shoalwater Bay/Tokeland area within 10-22 minutes of an 8-9 magnitude earthquake. KING 5 was there when crews broke ground on the project, which was built about 1.4 miles from the tribal center in an area accessible to tribal and non-tribal residents alike.
Washington is also home to the nation’s first tsunami-resistant building; Ocosta School District Elementary School in Westport. The building has four staircases that reach the roof. The building is built strong enough to survive the crushing waves.
You can read more about tsunami preparedness in Washington State here.
LOOK: Tsunami waves would reach Seattle minutes after the quake