Mar 12, 2011
Vigorous waves similar to any stormy day on the coast were the only sign that a tsunami had arrived in Washington on Friday morning.
The National Weather Service said the first wave of the tsunami to hit the Washington Coast just after 7 a.m. measured 1.7 feet at La Push, about half a foot at Neah Bay and Port Angeles, and 1.3 feet at Westport.
The tsunami advisory remained in effect for the Washington Coast and more waves were expected, said Kirby Cook, science and operations officer for the National Weather Service in Seattle. More waves were landing in California and that meant Washington and Oregon could expect more as well.
The advisory would remain in effect until the tsunami center in Alaska called it off, Cook said. The waves were triggered by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan.
About 60 people had evacuated to Grays Harbor Fire District No. 8 in Moclips. Volunteer firefighter Cathy Bisiack said a group of mostly elderly residents were enjoying a pancake breakfast and watching the news on TV when the waves started to hit the Washington Coast.
In Alaska, the tsunami caused a wave just over 5 feet at Shemya in the Aleutian Islands 1,200 miles southwest of Anchorage.
During the advisory, residents around Moclips, Pacific Beach, Iron Springs and Taholah who live close to the ocean were asked to move to higher ground, the Grays Harbor Emergency Management agency said.
Harper says the Quinault Indians were looking at limited evacuations in the Taholah area. Farther north, members of the Makah and Hoh Indian tribes were coordinating their public safety efforts with Jefferson County.
In southwest Washington's Pacific County, Sheriff Scott Johnson said the county activated its reverse 911 system, phoning residents on the coast and in low-lying areas and asking them to move to higher ground.
In light of the advisory, an orderly evacuation was under way before dawn in Long Beach, Ilwaco and Ocean Park, Johnson said.
"We certainly don't want to cry wolf," he said. "We just have to hope we're doing the right thing based on our information. We don't want to be wrong and have people hurt or killed.
"In the last 25-30 years, this is the second time I've been involved in an evacuation for this reason," the sheriff added.
Within minutes, a steady stream of cars was pulling to Mark and Vicki Whitman's combination store and gas station on the edge of town. "People are getting gas so they can get the hell out," Mark Whitman said.
About 4 miles east of Long Beach, dozens of cars lined the shoulders of Highway 101on the closest higher ground available.
"I'm really not too worried, but we live close enough to the beach that I figured we might as well go and be safe," said Mary Hersey, a 20-year- resident of the Long Beach peninsula. Hersey said when she heard of the advisory, it took her only a few minutes to gather up her two dogs, a cat, daughter and grandson and head for high ground.
Still, many people remained in Long Beach, noting that the tsunami siren system hadn't sounded.
Joanne Black put some clothes, food and other supplies in her trunk outside her house, but said she didn't expect to leave unless she heard the situation was growing more serious.
Some Long Beach residents noted that early reportsfrom Hawaii indicated the tsunami might not be as large as first feared.
Access roads to beach were closed, but the beach was nearly, but not entirely, deserted.
Matt Winters, editor of the local weekly, the Chinook Observer, watched the wave action from a boardwalk above the beach and said he'd seen nothing unusual. There also was a jogger with dog on beach.
Major roads remained open in the peninsula.
At Ilwaco Middle/High School, the area's designated evacuation site during emergencies, between 400-500 evacuaees spent the night.
"Some of the people were really frightened. You can imagine being awakened in the middle of the night and you hear tsunami and you don't know what's going on," said Marc Simmons, a co-principal at the school.
Television news coverage heightened their concern, he said.
"I think the images of what happened in Japan got people thinking, 'If we got even half of that, how bad it would be.',"
At the school, some of those most concerned were calmed by having a place to go and people to be with, Simmons said
Classes were canceled for the day, but many school employees came to help those who left their homes.
The school provided the evacuees food that would have been served at school Friday.
People became calmer with early reports that waves in Hawaii were not as big as feared.
Whatever the size of the wave that hits the coast, it could be amplified by the tide — low this morning but higher as the day goes on, Harper said. In Oregon, residents living near beaches on the coast evacuated their homes Friday morning, and gift shops and other businesses stayed shuttered as a tsunami surged across the Pacific following a massive earthquake in Japan.
Some evacuees in Seaside drove into a hilly area overlooking town to wait for the predicted big waves, which were expected to hit the Oregon coast between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.
Restaurants, gift shops and other businesses in the tourist town were shuttered, and hotels were evacuated.
Evacuations were reported in parts of several coastal communities.
Streams of eastbound traffic were reported on some roads near the coast as residents sought higher ground, and long lines were reported at some gas stations.
Coastal communities were bracing for waves of up to 6 feet that could cause damage.
Mike Fancher, from Seattle, who is in Cannon Beach, said the downtown was evacuated about 6:20 Friday morning, but things were quiet otherwise.
Schools up and down the coast were closed. Gov. John Kitzhaber issued a statement urging "all Oregonians along the coast to heed tsunami alarms and follow instructions from public safety officials about heading to higher ground."
Alaska Emergency Management says the tsunami from the Japanese earthquake caused a 5.1-foot wave at Shemya, 1.5-foot at Adak, and 1.6-foot at Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands. Shemya is 1,200 miles southwest of Anchorage.
Emergency Management Specialist David Lee at Fort Richardson says there are no reports of damage and no significant damage expected on the coast of Alaska, although that could still depend on the surge in different areas.
The Alaska Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for the coastal areas of Alaska from Attu to Amchitka Pass in the Aleutians and an advisory from Amchitka Pass along the West Coast to Oregon.
Seattle Times staff reporter Jack Broom on the Washington coast contributed to this report.
Mary Ellen and I are both extremely pleased with the work that your crew did. Please pass on my personal "thank you" to each of them.
We were pleased with the amount of clean-up that was done at the end of each day.
Even with your discovery of unforeseen conditions that necessitated additional framing, it was still done within a very reasonable time-frame. My overall experience with Sound Seismic has been very positive and we will recommend your services to our circle of friends and family.
Again, thank you for a very "enjoyable" experience!
Mark and Mary Ellen Whitesell, Ballard, Seattle
I wish to praise SOUND SEISMIC for the earthquake retrofit they completed on my home. From the estimate to the finished job, Leif and his crew were professional, hard working, pleasant and exceptionally CLEAN. They handled the permit and inspections seamlessly. Office support from Elizabeth was equally professional, reliable and fast. I can't describe everything so I'll just say the whole experience was great.
Kristin Hill, Wallingford, Seattle
We recently had Sound Seismic do our earthquake retrofit. I cannot compliment enough the very professional job they did. Leif Jackson, the owner, sat with us for two hours answering questions and explaining how earthquakes work. He was completely above board, not promising more than he could deliver. He left interesting reading material so that we could evaluate and decide for ourselves. The most compelling was from FEMA warning people in the Puget Sound area to do everything they could to protect their homes because of our earthquake risk.
Once we were in contract, Leif sent our information to a structural engineer who drew up the plans. The bid was fair and complete. The crew showed up on the date the job started and completely it quickly. It looks great. Our new pony walls are gorgeous and the bolts and clamps very reassuring. City inspections were completed for the bolting and then for the finished job. This company is certified and high quality. Our house will be sticking around on the foundation. I encourage you to get over gambling about retrofitting and hire these guys. They are great.
Emily Elliott, Queen Anne
The crew kept me informed of their progress and plans all the time. They told me what their plans were, and delivered every time. Very satisfying knowing I could count on them doing what they promised - when they promised it!
Martin Muller, Olympic Manor, Seattle
Sound Seismic was the most professional group of contractors/employees I have ever dealt with. They were knowledgable, dependable, and skilled. The project lead was obviously well trained and knew what he was doing, was able to effectively manage and direct his crew and subcontractors. A quality job. Discovered an area behind my walls were my house was not up to code. Worked well will me to correct the problem and professional and reasonable about the change order.
Andrew Austin, Phinney Ridge
The Sound Seismic crew arrived on time and got started on this structurally engineered and contracted job. It was estimated to take approximately one week to complete this work. The job was completed in 4 days with great professionalism and dedication to the work completed. The work passed a city inspection with no additional work required. The quality of work is excellent with great attention to detail.
Based in Ballard, the 2 man crew of Sound Seismic did a very clean, professional job of installing the earthquake retrofit. I was very happy with quality of the work and the way the crew kept the site clean and organized every day. They stick to a firm 8-hour work day for their employees and offer health benefits, a rarity in the contract world, it would seem. So their bid was not the lowest, however was comparable to a number of other firms, within 5-10%. Very punctual and professional in all coordination and in handling the 2 inspections reqd. by the city. No surprises or additional costs. I would recommend this contractor overall.
Jennifer Dovey, Broadview, Seattle
Sound Seismic did such a thorough job. Looking at their work lets me sleep better at night knowing my house is now very unlikely to shift off its foundations in an earthquake.
P. Kiraly, Madrona, Seattle
We thank you for the very professional work done by all of your people that we have had contact with. The crew working here were outstanding, and we were charmed by your lead carpenter, Matt.
Our basement has not been this clean in 70 years (the house is 70 years old)!
Bryant neighborhood, Seattle
We had a wonderful experience with Sound Seismic. After the devastating earthquake in Japan my husband and I were quite worried about our 3 story brick home and decided to retrofit our basement as a way to ease our anxiety and protect our family.
Sound Seismic's estimate was more reasonable than any of the others we got and we felt very confident knowing that Leif and his team have done many retrofits, including our friend's basement. Leif was able to explain the process to me, answer my questions, and gave me the estimate within an hour of coming to the house.
The hardest part of the process was moving our furniture and boxes out of the way to prepare the basement - after that things just moved along smoothly. I had been expecting huge holes in the walls and dust everywhere but the work was really tidy and not nearly as disruptive as I had feared. My kids and I were able to stay in the house the whole time, only playing out in the backyard a couple times when the banging was loud. The baby was even able to take naps in the midst of the demolition!
Matt was very professional and friendly, he always arrived on time and he communicated well, checking in with us at the end of each day to show us the progress of the work. He was able to finish the work a half-day sooner than planned and there were no hidden costs or extra changes when the invoice arrived.
I would highly recommend Sound Seismic to anyone -- they were fantastic!
Rachel Opel, Ballard, Seattle
Thanks for the great work on the house - you've done an outstanding job of prompt, low-impact work - and leaving the job site in excellent shape. Appreciate the attention to detail."
Wayne Dodge, Ravenna, Seattle
"I wanted to follow up and thank you for your good communication, strong planning and flexibility.
Your foreman was great. Very professional, low key, friendly and efficient."
Urs Koenig, Madrona, Seattle
Sound Seismic gave a very competitive bid, clearly explained everything they were going to do, accomodated my schedule, and produced a very high quality outcome. I highly recommend them.
Gary Johnson, Wallingford, Seattle
Your crew did a great job! It was a pleasure to meet them. And as soon as I met your lead carpenter, I knew that everything would be done 'right.'
They took extra care at every level: and left everything better than ever. They were able to remove the siding without cutting it, which is great, too.
I am glad that I got to see how substantial the anchors, fasteners, etc. are - and how robustly the plywood panels are nailed in. ( It was hard for me to tell from the blueprints alone.)
I am very happy with all aspects of the plan and the work, Leif.
David Rosenbaum, Sand Point, Seattle
All in all, we felt the project went extremely well. Given the number of earthquakes worldwide of late, we are pleased to have had the work done. We’d rather not have it tested, but we know we are in as good a position as possible if the ground starts shaking!
I wanted to let you know what a great job that your crew did on our earthquake retrofit. They were very knowledgeable about the whole process and answered any questions we had without hesitation. Their work was excellent and they finished the job quickly. I have done my share of remodeling in the past and I can say that they cleaned up after each day’s work more thoroughly than anyone I’ve ever encountered. They took obvious pride in the retrofit work they did but also in the cleanup. They saw that as an integral part of the Sound Seismic service. All in all, it was a fast and painless experience.
Thanks for assigning those fine young men to our job.
Paul Gustie, Fremont
Sound Seismic performed an engineered retrofit on our house built in 1928. I've never had a better experience working with a contractor - thoroughly professional (truly experienced and knowledgeable in their craft), they were also excellent communicators throughout the engagement. And the cleanup afterwards was amazing. I would recommend them without reservation!
George Murphy, Northgate, Seattle
I wanted to thank you for the wonderful job you did retrofitting my home in South Seattle. I was aware that it would be a challenge and it proved to offer more problems than we expected. You met them all and did a great job correcting the rot and damage that happened over the years since 1927, when the house was built.
When I arrived home yesterday the basement was clean and organized. It was the first time I did not have to spend hours cleaning up after a contractor. Your lead carpenter and his assistant were a great team. Thanks for all your efforts.
Patrick Murphy, Mount Baker
I can't think of a single way you could improve the service of your company. Yours is one of the VERY best companies I've worked with on this home.
Jeannie Macri, West Seattle
Sound Seismic completed a earthquake retrofit on our house. Their explanation about what to expect and what we'd get was clear and straightforward; the work was completed as described, as scheduled and exactly on time; clean-up: spotless.
Harriet B., Ballard
"The experience with Sound Seismic was possibly the finest I have had in my dealings with any of my trade contractors. Your crew was knowledgable, well informed, hard working, tidy, as well as a pleasure to have on my job."
Thank you very much for your excellent work on retrofitting our house. We appreciated your careful oversight of the project, ongoing contact with the engineering firm, attention to detail, and clean and timely work. You really rose to the challenges presented by "this old house."
Sound Seismic exhibited a great combination of skill, hard work, and professionalism. You treated our home and our project as though you were doing it on your own house.
Everything looks good. Thanks for the all the work your guys did, very professional.
Stuart Jamieson, Montlake
Sound Seismic did an excellent job of the seismic retrofit on my two-story house, which entailed quite a lot of siding work as I don't have a basement. The workmen were punctual, neat and meticulous. I feel safer because of their work.
Pippa Kiraly., Madrona
Just wanted to send you a note to express how pleased we are with the work your firm recently completed. You did exactly what you said you would and the quality of the work is first rate. Also, please tell Matt how much we enjoyed him. Thanks,
Gary Johnson, Wallingford