The Safe Haven Tsunami Vertical Evacuation Project

(aka "The Berm Project")

Please click here to view the draft Environmental Assessment .The City of Long Beach is preparing to protect its citizens, particularly its children, in the event of a large earthquake and subsequent tsunami along the nearby offshore Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ). In the event of a very large earthquake along the CSZ–a so-called “megathrust” event of magnitude 8 to 9–people located in Long Beach cannot reach high ground in time to avoid the subsequent tsunami. In response to this eventuality, the city is building high ground via a project that is the first of its kind in the U.S. Here are some facts to help you understand the unique Safe Haven Vertical Evacuation Structure project:
  • The project is a hardened earth berm with an armored exterior–essentially a large rock.
  • The berm is designed to withstand both a CZM megathrust earthquake and its subsequent tsunami.
  • The berm will shed debris flows, and withstand both incoming tsunami waves and outgoing backwash.
  • The berm will provide an area to shelter-in-place 800+ people.
  • The berm will be located at the Long Beach Elementary School, to first protect 350 school children and their caregivers.
  • The berm is intended to provide shelter for a maximum of 12 hours; once the tsunami threat is over people will move to designated assembly areas, which will provide shelter for several days to weeks.
  • The berm will be a community asset, providing play areas and a viewing area.
  • Due to its location and scope, the project requires local, state, and federal permits; once those permits are in-hand, it will take approximately 6 months to build.
  • Planning and initial design development of the Safe Haven project has been a partnership between the University of Washington Departments of Urban Design & Planning and of Construction Management, EMD, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Pacific County Emergency Management Agency, the Shoalwater Bay Tribe, the City of Long Beach, and Degenkolb Engineering. Funding for the planning phase was provided by the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program.
  • Final design development and construction of the Safe Haven project is a technical and funding partnership between the Federal Emergency Management Agency of the Department of Homeland Security (FEMA), the Emergency Management Division of the Washington State Defense Department (EMD), and the City of Long Beach. The entire design/construction project cost is $3.4 million; FEMA is responsible for 75% of that amount, and EMD and the city are each responsible for 12.5%. It would take $25 million in sales to generate that much tax revenue in the city.