Derek Oleson is a 20-year-old economics student at Southern Oregon University in Ashland.  

Although he’s heard about the coming megaquake all his life, he admits to being not very prepared.

“I don’t really feel as though I have a place that I call home that I’m ready to defend or to stock up on stuff or anything like that,” he said.

Oleson is an Eagle Scout, but he said living in a residence hall means he doesn’t have the space or the money to start stockpiling water and emergency supplies.

Oleson has plenty of company. OPB’s survey found that 37 percent of Oregonians and 33 percent of Washingtonians say they’re not very prepared.

Oleson doesn’t think the states are prepared either.

“I’m guessing politicians have put it on the back burner. … Relief efforts and the press surrounding a natural disaster (are) really what draw people’s attention to it. And since it hasn’t happened yet, not a lot of people have given it any thought,” he said.

The survey contacted 800 registered voters by phone earlier this month. The survey was conducted by DHM Research, and has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

Poll: Earthquake Preparedness

If there were a major earthquake in your state today, would you say that _________ are/is very prepared, somewhat prepared, not too prepared, or not at all prepared?

Data from DHM Research/OPB

The survey found that 44 percent of Oregonians and 35 percent of Washingtonians think their state isn’t prepared. Pollster John Horvick said they’re right.

“Sixty-three percent of Oregonians say they’re at least somewhat prepared. … That’s a start. But only 12 percent say they’re very prepared. And when we’re talking about a major earthquake, somewhat’s probably not going to cut it,” he said.

The poll also asked voters whether they had 14 gallons of water and 42 prepackaged meals stored for each person in their household. Horvick said about seven out of 10 people said they don’t have those basics.

“As a public opinion researcher,” Horvick said, “I will tell you that those are probably overestimates of the true number — that there is a desire to sound prepared and responsible to someone who’s calling you on the phone.”

Retired management consultant, 73-year-old Julianne Johnson lives on the beach at Manzanita. She said that while she has a go-bag of supplies by her bed and another in her car, she feels it’s a nearly futile exercise.

“If there’s a 9 earthquake, then the house is not going to survive,” she said, “I’ll be under two-by-fours that’ll look like toothpicks at the time.”

Johnson said she knows where to go to get away from a tsunami, and has some food in a storage unit. But she’s not sure how long it will last.

“What we’re told here,” she said, “is that Portland will be so terrible that we may have a minimum of three months before anybody comes to help us out because all the focus will be on helping out people in the valley.”