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Big Tsunami Destroys Native Village in 1700

The devastating Japanese earthquake of March 11, 2001, killed nearly 20,000 people and hurled an 8 to 10-foot tsunami across the Pacific into Oregon and California ports, causing damage, one death and washing some people out to sea.

Other tsunamis have hit the West Coast.  One energized by the Alaska earthquake of March 1964 killed 11 people in Del Norte County, Calif.  Carrying floating debris, including cars and a gasoline tanker, the wave slammed into Crescent City, damaging buildings and starting a three-day fire.

Nothing has equaled the earthquake of 1700 that shook the Cascadia Subduction Zone.  Its winter tsunami’s 50 to 60-foot waves wiped out whole villages.  Indigenous tribes tell a story about a boy and girl living in a village near present-day Brookings, Ore., who said a dog had told them something bad was coming.  Their grandmother sent them scurrying to the top of a nearby mountain.  Soon the ground shook and the waters receded far from shore, sending alarmed villagers running for higher ground.

With their early warning, the two children outran the giant wave and were the only survivors of the obliterated village.

Sources:  Source: Terry, Lynne. "6-Foot Waves Hit Curry County in tsunami event on southern Oregon coast in low tide conditions." The Oregonian, 11 Mar. 2011 [Portland] . Accessed 30 Jan. 2017; Pararas-Carayannis, Dr George. The Effects of the March 27, 1964 Alaska Tsunami In California, edited by Dr George Pararas-Carayannis, www.drgeorgepc.com/Tsunami1964Calif.html. Accessed 20 Feb. 2017; Source: Rice, Peter. "The Last Great Tsunami." Curry Coastal PIlot, 2 Nov. 2005 [Brookings, OR] , www.currypilot.com/csp/mediapool/sites/CurryPilot/News/story.csp?cid=4253300&sid=919&fid=151. Accessed 20 Feb. 2017.

Valerie Ing was a teenager when she hosted her first music program on the airwaves. As a student at SOU, she was JPR’s Chief Student Announcer and the first volunteer in our newsroom. She's now JPR’s Northern California Program Coordinator, hosting Siskiyou Music Hall from JPR's Redding studio in the Cascade Theatre.