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The End of the Tsunami Sirens in Tillamook County

Pete Springer/OPB

In Tillamook County, the use of tsunami sirens to alert people of approaching high water is scheduled to be phased out by January, 2013. While other coastal towns continue to rely on sirens, Tillamook County will depend on a range of new and existing tools come 2013. Current methods include planes flying overhead with speakers attached, an ATV on the beach warning boaters and vacationers, and a reverse 911 system; but soon there will be no sirens.

Tillamook County Emergency Management Director Gordon McCraw sees the retirement of the sirens as an appropriate step. He points to scientific research that indicates that sirens are not necessary, and say for a tsunami caused by a distant earthquake, coastal residents will have hours to evacuate. For earthquakes centered closer to home, the ground shaking is all the warning that people will need to get to a safe place, he says.

Tillamook County resident Robin McDonald and her daughter, Ocie Johnson, do not agree. The two have launched a Facebook campaign called “Save Our Sirens,” aimed at both educating the public about the removal of the sirens and advocating that the city and county governments reconsider their decision. The more ways that people can be warned and protected in the event of a tsunami, they argue, the better. “The sirens are already here, already in place,” she said. “Why not keep them up?”

Do you live in a coastal area at risk of tsunamis? What is the most effective way to be warned if a tsunami is headed your way?


  • Gordon McCraw: Director of Emergency Management for Tillamook County
  • Robin McDonald: Tillamook County resident and co-founder of “Save Our Sirens” Facebook campaign
coast emergency preparedness tsunami

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