The Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe will receive $2.2 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to construct a vertical evacuation shelter for protecting the population from tsunamis.
According to FEMA, these funds represent a 90% federal share of a total project cost of over $2.5 million.
In a release, FEMA says that the award is part of the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program which provides resources to assist states, tribal governments, territories and local communities in their efforts to implement a sustained pre-disaster natural hazard mitigation program.
“The Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program is a powerful tool for communities facing threats from tsunamis,” FEMA Regional Administrator Mike O’Hare said. “The Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe’s investment in a Vertical Evacuation Tower means that people will have someplace safe to go within minutes of a catastrophic Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.”
The release states that the new structure will be built adjacent to Tribal housing on the Tokeland peninsula and above the predicted tsunami wave crest height. This space will cover 3,400 square feet, and will accommodate not only Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribal members, but also residents in the surrounding community.
“The tribe considers itself to be a good neighbor, and we know that resources are scarce in the area, so we make sure that the surrounding community members are always included and informed of impending Emergency Management issues,” Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe Emergency Manager Lee Shipman said. “We feel strongly that we are all in this together.”
FEMA tells KXRO that the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe has been looking into a new, tsunami-safe structure since a study spearheaded by the Washington Emergency Management Division found a dire need for the structures up and down the coast. The Project Safe Haven report was released following the devastating Japanese tsunami in 2011, where thousands of lives were saved because of tsunami vertical evacuation structures.
For more information on the funding program visit FEMA’s PDM website at https://www.fema.gov/pre-disaster-mitigation-grant-program.