Eastern Washington resident perceptions of natural hazard risks

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Johnston, D.M.; Orchiston, C.; Nelson, M.; Schelling, J.; Becker, J.S.; Weaver, C.S. 2012 Eastern Washington resident perceptions of natural hazard risks. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: GNS Science. GNS Science report 2012/05 27 p.

Abstract: Washington State, United States, has variable seismic risk as a result of a major plate boundary off the western coastline known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Seismic risk generally decreases from west to east with distance from the subduction zone. Much recent attention has been focussed on the seismic risk in western parts of the State because of the potential impact on large, concentrated populations in the Seattle-Tacoma area. While the risk to communities in eastern Washington is less than western parts of the state, future damaging earthquakes remain a distinct possibility, and could result from earthquakes associated with either the offshore subduction zone or from local faults. This report describes the results of a study investigating resident perceptions of natural hazard risk in eastern Washington. Data was collected using a structured survey at five County and State fairs in September 2010, and through follow-up focus groups in October 2011. The results highlight that few eastern Washington residents had experienced damaging earthquakes in the past, but many believed they would experience one during their lifetime. While awareness and understanding of the likelihood of future earthquakes was found to be relatively high, this did not translate into residents taking steps to get more prepared, with only a small proportion adopting mitigation measures other than owning a flashlight, fire extinguisher or first aid kit. (auth)