Columbian Newspaper

After mega-quake, tsunami would arrive quickly
Author: Craig Sailor, The News Tribune

Tacoma — Last weekend’s undersea volcanic explosion near Tonga devastated the island nation and sent small tsunami waves to Washington’s ocean coast. Those waves took about 12 hours to reach the state and gave residents plenty of time to prepare if they had been bigger.

Those same residents would have only 10 minutes to evacuate for waves up to 100-feet-high that would hit them following a massive earthquake in the Cascadia subduction zone. Some might not get that much time. Ground sinking below their feet might flood during a magnitude 9 quake.

That’s what computer modeling shows, according to a report released Jan. 10 by the Washington Geological Survey. The report illustrates what would happen to cities, river mouths, beaches and other low-lying areas on the Olympic Peninsula. Previously, the Geological Survey released maps for the Southwest Washington coast, San Juan islands and Puget Sound.

The report includes detailed maps from just north of Grays Harbor to Port Townsend. The goal is to prepare both officials charged with community protection as well as to warn the public of potential hazards.

The big, long shake

The modeling used for the report assumes the Big One hits in the subduction zone, 80-100 miles off Washington’s coast, where the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate is sliding under the North American plate. The “full rip” event would run along the fault’s entire length from Northern California to north of Vancouver Island.

It’s been 322 years since that last happened and only a matter of time before it happens again.

“There’s lots of geologic evidence that these quakes and tsunamis have happened many times,” said Corina Allen, chief hazards geologist for the Geologic Survey.

There would be no sleeping through this quake. The strong ground shaking would likely last between three and six minutes and serve as an immediate call to seek higher ground.

“The earthquake is your warning,” Allen said. “Get to high ground.”

By comparison, the region’s last major temblor, 2001’s Nisqually Quake, lasted about 45 seconds.

It’s during the earthquake itself, Allen said, when coastal Washington will drop in relationship to areas west of the fault. The change in sea level would flood vulnerable areas up to five feet, modeling shows.

It’s happened before, as evidence from the Copalis River ghost forest shows. Trees killed by a saltwater inundation from the 1700 earthquake still stand along the river and helped geologist Brian Atwater prove that the quake was responsible.

In the 1700 quake, a tsunami struck Japan and killed thousands of people. Its source remained a mystery until Atwater made the connection.

Following a mega-quake on the Cascadia fault, simulations show that the tiny town of La Push would get hit first by a tsunami, 10 minutes after shaking started.

Those Hollywood depictions of a giant wave rising from the sea are inaccurate, Allen said. Think wall of water instead. And it comes very fast.

“In deep water it travels about the speed of a jet plane,” she said. “When it gets close to land it slows down.”

Within 30 minutes, many parts of the coast would be hit by waves. Wave heights can vary but they’re predicted to be 30 feet or higher. Most Pacific coast beaches and campgrounds would be under 60 feet of water.

The report said waves of 60 feet or higher could hit the Hoh Indian Reservation, Queets, Taholah on the Quinault Indian Reservation, Moclips, Pacific Beach, Iron Springs, Copalis Beach and Ocean City.

The mouth of the Hoh River could be flooded to a depth of 100 feet.

Within an hour, a 20-foot-high wave would hit Port Angeles. The U.S. Coast Guard Air Station there would be under 15 feet of water a little more than an hour after the quake.

Waves would continue to hit for eight hours and be a hazard for a full day after the quake.

Messaging to coastal residents on Saturday following the volcanic eruption near Tonga that the first wave might not be the biggest holds true for all tsunamis, Allen said. Flood levels can also vary depending on tidal levels.

That holds true in Puget Sound where modeling shows the fourth wave to hit Olympia would likely be the biggest.

“We have such a complicated waterway in the Puget Sound,” she said. “As this wave travels through, there’s lots of sloshing going on. (The) wave is bouncing off of our islands and our peninsulas and our inlets.”

Morning Press: Minimum wage increase; ponzi scheme; #BettyWhiteChallenge
Author: Amy Libby

Rain? Snow? Who knows? Check out the local weather forecast before you head outside.

In case you missed them, here are some of the top stories from the week:

Washington minimum wage increase ripples through Clark County

As Washingtonians rang in the new year, a big change took place. The state’s minimum wage rose by nearly a dollar, and its minimum threshold for salaried workers increased to $52,743.60 for all employers, regardless of size.

What caused such a large increase? State law and a 5.83 percent surge in the federal consumer price index from the year before.

I-5 Bridge Replacement Program unveils visuals that are ‘an example of direction we’re going’

Commuters and Interstate 5 Bridge users can now see conceptual 3D images of what two different design options being considered for the bridge’s replacement would roughly resemble in Vancouver’s downtown area.

The images were released to the project’s executive steering group Thursday morning.

State: Vancouver man ran Ponzi scheme

The Washington Department of Financial Institutions Securities Division has filed administrative charges against a Vancouver man accused of violating the state Securities Act by using funds from a pooled investment vehicle to make Ponzi payments to investors, among other violations.

The statement of charges was entered Dec. 17 against Charles Richard Burgess, who goes by the first name Dick.

Donations pour in at Clark County animal shelters during Betty White Challenge

On Sunday night, Kari-Lyn Jakubs, the director of I Paw’d It Forward, a volunteer-based nonprofit that provides lost and found pet services in Clark County, made a post on social media after learning about a viral grassroots campaign that encouraged people to donate to local animal rescues and shelters in honor of what would have been the late actor Betty White’s 100th birthday on Jan. 17.

White was an outspoken animal lover and animal welfare advocate and Jakubs, who considers White as one of her heroes, decided to join in the #BettyWhiteChallenge.

Before Tonga went quiet

SEATTLE — On Friday at 8:58 p.m. the first text arrived from her sister in Tonga. It was 5:58 p.m. Saturday over there.

“Sis pray for us. There is a tsunami. It’s scary. We are escaping. It’s raining little rocks.”

Winter right time for some chores
Author: Kiersten Willis, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Spring cleaning may get all the attention, but it’s winter cleaning you need to pay attention to.

From checking the fireplace to cleaning windows, these tasks can often slip by throughout the year but are important in keeping a home free from dirt and germs.

“Constantly changing weather conditions and varying temperatures, means we often carry a lot of dirt into our houses,” the team at Helpling, a London-based online cleaning booking company, told House Beautiful U.K. “With most of us now working from home, having a clean house is even more important than usual to make it as comfortable and cozy as possible.”

It doesn’t have to be hard to keep your house free from clutter and filth. Here are some tips for how you can get rid of grime in your home.

  • Clean your fireplace

Before you cozy up to the fireplace this season, be sure it is in running order. Not only can dirt collect and hide inside chimneys but animals can, too. Clean them and the firebox before lighting. Simple Green has some tips on how to clear wood-burning fireplaces at

  • Look after your HVAC

The heating, ventilating, and air conditioning unit is important for providing warmth inside your home, but you should be sure that it’s free from gunk. A simple way to keep the HVAC in good condition is to check it once a month — especially in the winter and summer when it gets heavy use. Replace the air filter a minimum of once every three months, which will prevent dirt from building up, according to Energy Star.

  • Wipe dirt from the windows

Despite the sun shining a little less, it’s still nice to be able to catch a clear view of the outdoors. Plus, cleaning the windows can allow light to trickle in when the sun is out and help ward off the sadness that can occur in the wintertime, according to Lewisville, Texas-based house cleaning service Buckets & Bows. Bob Vila has some tips on how you can clean windows inside and outside at

  • Don’t just clean your refrigerator — check behind it

While it’s important to clean your fridge and remove any old food, you also need to pay attention to the exterior and the areas that are often not taken care of. It takes 20-30 minutes to clean under and behind the unit, according to Real Simple. Removing dust from the coils can help the refrigerator run smoothly.

Energy Adviser: Use that space heater with great caution
Author: Clark Public Utilities

Electricity powers our lives. It heats our homes, lights up our neighborhoods, broadcasts ideas across the globe and does so much more.

But if not treated with respect and caution, it can easily start a fire. In fact, this time of year is when electrical fires occur most often.

Every year, about 51,000 home fires are caused by electricity, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International. Nearly a third of those fires occur between November and February, reports the National Fire Protection Association.

Electrical fires should be treated as a constant threat in our homes and businesses. Once an electrical fire gets started, it can be difficult to stop.

Further complicating the situation, modern homes are built with materials that are much more flammable than in older homes. According to Underwriters Laboratories, a person has just three minutes or less to escape a house fire in a modern home; 30 years ago, they had up to 17 minutes.

“This time of year, a lot of folks use space heaters, but they should do so with extreme caution,” Clark Public Utilities Safety Manager Justin Zucconi pointed out. “When in use, they need to sit on a hard surface with at least 3 feet of space from anything flammable. Plus, it’s important to remember to shut them off whenever you leave the room.”

It’s a good idea to periodically inspect your space heater. If it is hot to the touch while in operation, you should consider replacing it. Never run it with an extension cord or power strip; instead, plug it directly into the wall.

In addition, you should make sure the cord to your heater — and all other electronics — is in good shape and not hidden under rugs or behind furniture that could easily move.

Perform an occasional electrical hazard survey around your home. Don’t expect new appliances to be any safer than older ones. Everything electronic is a potential hazard and should be treated that way.

Don’t run any electrical cords under rugs, through doorways or behind any furniture that is easily moved.

Occasionally inspect electric cords for any breaks, frays or exposed wires, and replace any that are damaged. If the cord is damaged, have it repaired by a professional or bring it to one of the many free community repair events that are hosted around Clark County.

Whether it’s in the home office, around the entertainment center or decorating for the holidays, we’ve all found ourselves without enough outlets for all the electronics we want to plug in. In those times, it’s tempting to connect them all to a power strip or a multi-outlet connection, but doing so can be dangerous.

“Overloading your outlets can easily cause a fire at the point of connection or somewhere else along the circuit,” Zucconi said. “If you have to plug several things in, it’s best to find an additional outlet.”

Whenever you use an extension cord, make sure it’s rated to handle the power demands of the device you’re connecting it to. Many electronics, especially power tools and cooking appliances, use much more power than their size might suggest.

As safe as we try to be, accidents still happen. Protect your home with working smoke alarms and at least one fire extinguisher designed to combat electric fires. Above all, it’s important to stay alert at all times.

“If something doesn’t seem right, then it’s not right,” Zucconi said. “If you ever notice that distinct burning electrical equipment smell, notice outlets or appliances getting hot, or discoloration in casing or cords, or think you see smoke, don’t take any chances — either disconnect the device or shut off the circuit at the breaker box.”

Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668.

From the Newsroom: New year, same challenges
Author: Craig Brown

It’s a new year, but the newspaper business is facing the same problems as it did in 2021. And 2020. And in the years before that.

Our traditional business model has changed. Our industry is struggling to find a sustainable way to gather and tell the local news, while providing a middle-class living for our journalists and a decent return on investment for our owners.

This reinvention has been going on for more than a decade now, and it will be several more years before it plays out. Spoiler alert: I think there will be a place for locally owned news organizations like The Columbian.

I’m not sure about the big chains that now dominate our industry. Companies like Gannett, Digital First Media and Lee Enterprises are very profit-driven, and they have been accused of strip-mining their news operations in order to provide short-term gains to stockholders.

Apparently, the CBS News program “60 Minutes” is going to take a closer look on Sunday night with a segment called “The fading future of local newspapers.”

I watched the preview. An editor talked about how local news unites communities. You can see who died, who graduated from high school and whose kid was the hero of the big game. Will that shared community be lost to the next generation?

Not without a fight, at least from The Columbian. Although we’re smaller than we used to be, our staff is still out there telling Clark County’s stories. Want to know where to get a great breakfast burrito? Wondering how the Hudson’s Bay girls basketball team did against Hockinson? Concerned about the apparent effort to gerrymander county council districts? We recently wrote about all of that.

Although it’s important to know about Russia’s plans for Ukraine, I would contend that the local news is more important to the average Clark County consumer.

The question then becomes how to cover the costs of gathering and presenting it.

Traditionally, at least three-quarters of the costs were covered by advertising revenue. If you’ve lived here and read The Columbian for 30-plus years, like I have, you’ll remember the full-page ads from stores like Koplan’s Furniture and Meier & Frank. Car dealers took multiple pages on the weekends, and there were pages and pages of help wanted and real estate ads.

The rise of big-box chain stores, and later online shopping, took away most display ads, and websites like Craigslist have reduced the classifieds to nearly nothing.

Last year, a report from Pew Research Group showed newspaper advertising revenue declined from $49.4 billion in 2005 to an estimated $8.8 billion in 2020. It’s still falling.

That led to cutting more than half of all U.S. newsroom jobs. Wage stagnation is a problem, too. Pew found that newspaper reporters earned a median annual wage of $36,381 in 2012 and $35,950 in 2020.

At The Columbian, we have fared a little better. We’ve been able to retain more than half of our newsroom positions, and last year, for the first time in years, we gave raises to our lowest-paid journalists.

Our industry increasingly relies on circulation revenue, which for the first time is more than half of our income. Although circulation is down, reader revenue has been slightly up as U.S. newspapers raised prices. We raised our newsstand single-copy prices this month to match The Oregonian.

Looking to the future, there are other ways the newspaper business may be able to find more revenue. Some newspapers, such as The Seattle Times, are finding success with community funded journalism, where charitable donations offset the direct costs of reporters’ salaries. Congress is considering some bills that would benefit our industry. And our online subscription revenue is increasing.

I’ll be watching “60 Minutes” on Sunday with interest, but I won’t need a handkerchief.

Gardening with Allen: Meadowscaping worth a try
Author: The Columbian

I was intrigued by the article on meadowscaping in The Columbian on Jan. 11. What is your reaction to this idea? Do you have any suggestions for doing it?

When I was still active in the landscape business I did two projects similar to what was described in the article.

In one case we removed wild blackberries from a large sloping area, which was viewed from a back deck. We sowed a mix of wildflower seeds. Germination was limited because of irregular rainfall. Then the blackberries grew back with a vengeance. The second time we sprayed the blackberries to kill the roots. Then we planted some perennial flower plants in areas where rainwater collected temporarily. After a year, these plants developed into a colorful display. The rest of the area grew up with wild grasses with an occasional wildflower here and there.

The second project was in a smaller portion of a large backyard landscape with a lawn. We sowed a wildflower mix in an area with a sprinkler system. Seed germination was quite good. We had to hand pull a lot of annual weeds that came up along with the flowers. By the second year the flowers were established and grew thick enough that there were a lot fewer weeds.

To get a colorful display like those pictured in the article, you would need to transplant multiple varieties of perennial flowers in groupings. More mature gallon-size plants would fill the area more quickly and reduce weed growth. If you mulched this area every spring with 1 to 2 inches of bark dust you would have very little weed growth.

If I were going to do this project for myself I would start by incorporating at least 3 inches of bark dust or compost into the soil with a large rototiller. Then I would plant clusters of three to seven 4-inch to gallon-size plants selected from the following improved selections of native wildflowers.

For early spring bloom I would plant three low-growing ground covers, Alyssum Basket of Gold, Aubrieta Purple Rock Cress and Lamium Pink Pewter. Lamium continues to bloom through the entire summer.

For early summer to mid-summer bloom I would plant varieties that grow 12 to 30 inches tall: Geranium Rozanne, Coreopsis Moonbeam, Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) Goldsturm, Lavender Hidcote, Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) and Peruvian Lily (Alstroemeria). Rozanne has sky blue flowers, Moonbeam has lemon yellow flowers, Goldsturm has deep yellow flowers and Hidcote has deep lavender blue flowers, Peuvian Lily comes in a wide range of colors. Rozanne, Moonbeam and Peruvian Lily will continue blooming into late summer to early fall.

Then I would plant China Aster for fall bloom. I would place plants a little less than their full diameter apart so they will grow together leaving no space for weeds.

Another approach would be to plant a seed mixture of grass and wildflowers. Pro Time Lawn Seed Company in Portland ( has an excellent mixture which they call Fleur de Lawn. This mix contains the proper selection of grass seed varieties and low-growing flowers to achieve good results with low maintenance. It even contains a dwarf clover so no fertilizer is required. An occasional, well-timed mowing at 3-inch height is all the maintenance needed.

Sowing Seeds: Resolve to have a greener and more generous gardening year
Author: JEFF LOWENFELS, Associated Press

Something miraculous happens to gardeners at this time of year. I don’t know what triggers it. Perhaps it was the sight of Christmas trees and lights, or the presence of all those poinsettias. Whatever the cause, by January, gardeners have let go of last year’s gardens and start to dream about this year’s effort.

Just a short while ago, we were doing all manner of fall gardening and yard care. At the end of the season, gardening can seem more like a chore than an enjoyable hobby. We harvest vegetables, fret about mowing the lawn, deal with leaves, clean perennial beds and have to plant garlic before the frost.

Now, however, the memory slate has been cleaned. Somehow we’ve forgotten all the hard work last year’s gardens entailed. Refreshed, we find ourselves spending an afternoon browsing the internet looking for this year’s seeds or thumbing through an actual, hard-copy, seed catalog planning this year’s gardens.

Last year’s blisters, failures and misfortunes have been replaced by enthusiasm, and an optimism we may have lost as last year’s efforts dragged on.

So, here at another beginning, why not set a high bar for yourself as you start gardening again?

Here are a handful of 2022 resolutions that acknowledge some new approaches to our hobby:

For one thing, this is the year for gardeners to fully recognize our role in dealing with global warming. Those two-cycle, gasoline engines used in our yards, for example, are no longer environmentally acceptable and need to be phased out of home gardening. This season, accelerate replacement of your old mowers, blowers and weed eaters with manual, battery or corded versions. Even just skipping a session, mowing just once a month, will make a huge difference.

Next, gardeners are well known for sharing. Make some of your plantings for the greater good. For example, we gardeners have the ability to help increase pollinator, butterfly and bird populations, which have been in serious decline. All it takes is planting a few things that support them. There are enough of us that, combined, such efforts will make a huge difference.

And with over 85 million of us gardening, planting a row of food to donate to the hungry will have an impact on millions of people without food security. There is always a food bank, place of worship or neighbor that needs food and will appreciate fresh produce offered by gardeners. Plant a row for the hungry.

Also, the savvy gardener can use some trending plants to meet worthy goals. The “less lawn” movement, for example, in which gardeners’ try to reduce the size of their lawns, has struggled because wildflowers and meadow mixes sometimes don’t work well. To the rescue come all those tall, clumping grasses that are trendy because professional landscapers are using them around parking lots and new buildings. They are easy to maintain, and breeders have improved the selection for homeowners. Use these tall grasses to reduce the size of your lawn.

Finally, as a result of the pandemic, gardeners everywhere are learning the benefits of turning part of their yards into better social gathering areas. Last year, this trend was referred to as extending the front porch into the front yard. This year, go farther.

What about installing an awning or more permanent cover to shield you from rain? Spiff up the area around the fire pit and barbecue so you can use them in the winter, too. There are now waterproof TV screens (if you must). And make sure your internet connection outdoors is good enough so you can listen to your favorite gardening podcast.

You can forget about last year’s gardens. You should be refreshed and ready to go. This year’s gardening season has begun.

Harrop: Australia won’t miss you, Novak
Author: Froma Harrop

It was with dry eyes that Australians waved goodbye to Novak Djokovic, the tennis superstar their country sent packing because he wasn’t vaccinated against COVID-19.

Their laws require that foreigners entering the country be vaccinated. The Serbian, there to defend his Australian Open title, apparently assumed he’d fly past the rules governing mere mortals.

Djokovic has endorsement deals worth an estimated $30 million a year. His arrogant refusal to follow the public health mandates imposed on ordinary Australians may cut into his commercial worth, as it should.

One sponsor, the French clothing brand Lacoste, has already said it would review the controversy. In not a good sign for Djokovic, it also thanked the Open’s organizers “for all their efforts to ensure that the tournament is held in good conditions for players, staff and spectators.”

As a very casual consumer of professional sports, it is has long mystified me how doing masterful things with a ball justifies dumpsters of gold in compensation.

As a taxpayer, I resent being asked to subsidize professional sports arenas. As a subscriber to cable TV, I resent the “sports fee” tacked onto my bill.

This source of enrichment for professional teams and their players — sneakily made to look like a tax — is especially aggravating to we who don’t care who is playing, where they are playing or what they are playing.

This much-shared irritation with entitled sports celebrities precedes the row over COVID-19 vaccinations.

But when you add other bad behaviors to contempt for public health measures, you wonder how long before a hole is blown in their inflated value.

Another prominent example is Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets’ guard.

New York City mandates that professional athletes be vaccinated if they want to play at home.

Irving was to be paid more than $35 million this season but is not on the court for home games because he refuses to get his shots.

Irving says he doesn’t object to the vaccine. He just doesn’t want to be told to get it — this in a city where delivery guys can’t enter a diner without proof of vaccination.

In November, Mayor-elect Eric Adams said that New York would not make an exemption for Irving. And although the Nets could let Irving play Brooklyn home games if they pay a (paltry) fine of $5,000 per violation, the NBA refused to give a green light.

The NBA holds that teams must follow local laws, probably for the sport’s own good.

The assumption that sports heroes are unconditionally venerated reached a ridiculous height when Djokovic’s lawyers argued that by cancelling his visa, Australia could be stoking hostility toward vaccinations.

Really, if his refusal to get his shots influences low-information fans, all the more reason to send him packing.

Look. I’ve seen the emotional powers of sports heroes. My home used to be a house of worship for Tom Brady. Those days are gone.

ESPN writer Howard Bryant worries what this outlandish sense of entitlement will ultimately do to professional sports. Djokovic “has cemented his membership within the pandemic’s most infamous group — the anti-vax multimillionaire athlete who behaves as if his fame, wealth and enormous platform to disseminate misinformation place him above the rest of us.”

Bryant noted that the usually admirable Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James has posted memes likening COVID-19 to the flu. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers lied about being vaccinated and then trolled his critics with the claim that he was some sort of Ayn Rand superman.

Some insist that the Australian government was making an example of Djokovic. Actually, the government was simply not making an exception for him.

The pedestal on which sport celebrities stand is getting a lot lower.

Letter: Be socially responsible vs. COVID
Author: Ron Sturgeon, Vancouver

Our COVID-19 war deepens as casualties add up, with over 850,000 dead and hundreds of thousands varyingly disabled long-haulers.

When WWI and later WWII threatened America, ordinary Americans overwhelmingly sacrificed and rallied to defend our nation, but against COVID-19 a substantial number refuse to protect our country by girding their bodies with vaccinations.

The unvaccinated are the virulent incubators of COVID-19 as they have far higher levels and shed far more of the virus than the relatively mild breakthrough cases. Being unvaccinated puts everyone and our nation at greater risk as we need a vaccination rate over 90 percent to gain substantial herd immunity.

The unvaccinated are facilitating the spread of COVID-19 and the development of variants like delta and omicron. The next variant could be more contagious, deadly and resistant to existing antibodies. In conventional warfare, refusing prudent safeguards and knowingly allowing the enemy to use one’s body for assaults on our nation would be seen as aiding and abetting, treasonous acts.

People of most faiths are called to be socially responsible. Socially responsible people who love our wonderful, but imperfect, nation will, when possible, get vaccinated and protect us all.


Letter: New license is burdensome
Author: Mary Sobolewski, Camas

I have been married and driving in Washington under my married name for 52 years. For 52 years the routine has been the same, and the renewal process simple. When I applied for my enhanced license I had to submit an original certified birth certificate from the state of my birth, and a certified copy of my marriage license from the state of Washington. This on top of my current license, Social Security, and water bill.

Now ask yourself what’s behind this legal process, when illegal immigrants cross our borders with none of these documents. It feels like reverse discrimination.