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Fearing about the effects of an earthquake or tsunami, a tribe on the Washington coast has moved its village to higher ground.
The Quileute Nation sits on the front line of Washington state’s earthquake and tsunami risk. The lower village resides on land just a few feet above sea level.
A magnitude 9.0 earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which is a fault that runs offshore, is expected to unleash a massive tsunami, scientists say. It is feared the event would wipe out the village of La Push.
For decades, the tribe has been at the forefront of preparedness, holding evacuation drills. It became home to the site of one of the first warning sirens in the state called AHABs.
It has also pushed for a deal with the Olympic National Park to acquire land to move the village to much higher ground, which required congressional action. That deal was approved in 2012, and now five years later the clearing begins. It starts first with a road, then 30 acres for a new K-12 tribal school.
Construction of the school could begin with Federal Bureau of Indian Education funding in the late spring or summer 2018. The first class could graduate in 2020 if the schedule holds, says Quileute Tribal School Superintendent Mark Jacobson.
The school would be followed by the senior center, tribal offices, and other administrative functions. The opportunity would be made to allow homeowners who still live in the lower village to move higher.
The Quileute tribe has more than 800 members, and the reservation is about one square mile. The economy is based largely on fishing and tourism in a part of the state that struggles economically.