PAT NEAL: The day after the subduction

EDITORS NOTE: This month marks the 318th anniversary of the Jan. 26, 1700 Cascadia Subduction event that produced a magnitude 9 megathrust earthquake and associated tsunami. There is a geologic probability that it will happen again. This week’s column is an example of how not to prepare for it.


They always seem to be moving when you’re trying to lie still. Then I woke up in the middle of the night with the bed jumping up and down like a waterbed.

The whole house was moving and creaking like it was breaking apart.

The next thing I knew it was raining. That didn’t make sense until I noticed the gaping hole in the roof where the water was pouring in like a cold shower.

I found a tipped- over lamp and tried to turn it on but the power was out.

I fumbled in the dark and jumble of tipped-over furniture for a flashlight until I found my cell phone. I tried to turn it on but the battery was dead. I guess I should have charged it up.

Without it I had no idea what time it was. The brain struggled for an explanation of what had just happened.

Was it a nuclear war the politicians were always threatening us with? A gas explosion? Earthquake? There had to be some explanation.

I turned on the radio to get some news. The radio was dead.

I should have got one with batteries.

Walking barefoot in the dark in the squalor of my home was always a challenge but with everything tipped upside down I kept bumping into stuff.

Then it happened. I stepped on a fish hook.

I must have left my tackle box open. Now it was spread out all over the floor. Amid the pain and panic I stepped on another one.

As much as I hate fishing with barbless hooks they are easier to pull out of your hide than the ones with the barbs still on.

That was OK. I had a pair of pliers in a tool box in my truck. If I could find my truck. A tree had fallen on it. The doors were smashed in so I couldn’t get them open.

I felt my way back into the house and hobbled over to a dry corner where it didn’t seem to be raining.

There was only one thing to do.

Wait until dawn. This seemed to take a very long time.

My feet were throbbing. There was no sound coming from the outside. After what seemed like forever it started to get light.

In the gray light of dawn, the devastation was shocking even for my house, but first things first. What I really needed was a hot cup of coffee. That and getting the fishhooks out of my feet.

I tried the faucet but only a thin trickle of rusty water came out.

Then I remembered. The toilet had water. Enough for coffee anyway.

I could boil it with my camping stove. But the camping stove was out of fuel. I was getting hungry. I checked the fridge.

There was a half a bottle of ketchup, some mustard and a slimy bundle of kale.

All I had in the freezer was a dozen herring and some cured salmon eggs usually used for bait.

Things were looking grim. Then I woke up. It had all been a bad dream.

I thought it might be a good idea to get ready for the subduction event.


Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patnealwild [email protected]

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