Now Playing:



OPB’s 'Oregon Field Guide' Examines Oregon’s Preparedness for a Northwest Megaquake

“Unprepared” Airs Thursday, October 1 at 8 p.m. on OPB TV and Online  

OPB’s weekly local television series Oregon Field Guide will premiere a one-hour documentary “Unprepared,” which examines the ways Oregon is–and isn’t–prepared for the 9.0 earthquake scientists expect to hit the Northwest in the next 50 years.

“Unprepared” airs on OPB TV Thursday, October 1 at 8 p.m., and will be available for streaming online at the same time at for those outside the broadcast area.

In the late 1980s, scientists discovered the Cascadia Subduction zone—a geologic time bomb along the Oregon coast—capable of generating magnitude 9.0 megaquake similar to the one that struck Japan in 2011. Evidence now suggests there is a one-in-three chance Oregon will experience this Cascadia megaquake in the next 50 years. After a barrage of national attention about what Oregon faces, many Oregonians are left wondering: What can we do about it? How prepared is our state? What can we do to get ready?  

Oregon Field Guide spent a year-and-a-half probing into the state of Oregon’s preparedness, and found that when it comes to bridges, schools, hospitals, building codes and energy infrastructure, Oregon lags far behind many quake-prone regions of the country.

Oregon Field Guide traveled to Japan, and they found surprising lessons that Oregon can build upon. How did one Japanese hospital near the epicenter survive without so much as a broken window? How did an airport that was devastated by a tsunami get up and running within days? “

Unprepared” finds answers to these questions and more about how to plan better, build better, and prepare better for an earthquake experts predict could be one of the greatest natural disasters ever to strike the United States.  

“Unprepared” is produced by Ed Jahn and edited by Bruce Barrow. It airs Thursday, October 1 at 8 p.m. on OPB TV and will be available for streaming online at at the same time. For more information, visit

The documentary is a continuation of OPB’s ongoing news series “Unprepared,” launched earlier this year online, on OPB Radio and on social media at #UnpreparedNW. It features a rich collection of in-depth reporting, video and resources about the Cascadia megaquake and how to prepare.

In advance of the TV premiere, OPB is hosting a free, public screening event for the documentary in Portland at Mercy Corps Northwest on Thursday, September 24 at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7). The event will feature the full-length documentary and a Q&A session with:

  • Ed Jahn, “Unprepared” Producer, Oregon Field Guide
  • Allison Pyrch, Senior Project Geotechnical Engineer, Hart Crowser
  • Amy Shlossman, CEO, American Red Cross Cascades Region
  • Kate Raphael, Chilean earthquake survivor  

Attendees of the special preview event will also have the opportunity to enter a special giveaway of earthquake preparedness supplies courtesy of OPB.

On Friday, October 2, OPB’s daily radio show Think Out Loud will interview producer Ed Jahn about the making of “Unprepared.” The show airs at noon on OPB Radio.


About Oregon Field Guide

In its 27th season, Oregon Field Guide is a valuable source of information about outdoor recreation, ecological issues, natural resources and travel destinations across the Northwest region. Oregon Field Guide airs on OPB Thursday evenings at 8:30 p.m. and repeats on Sundays at 1:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. In Eastern Oregon Mountain Time, the program airs on Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. and Sundays at 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit Major support for the Oregon Field Guide series and Unprepared is provided by Dorothy D. Gage. Additional support for Unprepared by Colin and Rosine Evans; Sabine Baer and Manfred Wiesel; Jerry and Ginny Burgess, Ruth Fischer-Wright and Craig Wright. Additional series support is provided by the Coit Family Foundation, Fred and Clara Dolen Charitable Foundation, Kay Kitagawa and Andy Johnson-Laird, and Christine and David Vernier; and Greenfield/Hartline Habitat Conservation Fund of the Nature Conservancy.

OPB on Twitter