What types of plans are in place in case of a natural disaster in Nez Perce County?

LEWISTON, ID - With the deadly earthquake shaking Chile last week, and a landslide that left dozens dead in Oso, Washington last month, KLEW News asked an expert if Idaho could soon see a devastating natural disaster and how prepared are we if it happens here.

According to maps from the U.S. Geological Survey, Nez Perce County is in one of the most stable areas in the entire state of Idaho.

"Unlike California because of the risks there you have to do things like strap water tanks down and all the schools have emergency action plans for earthquakes," said Nez Perce Co. Emergency Management Director, Mel Johnson. "We don't have those here because the risk is so low."

The state of Idaho is divided into three risk categories...moderate, high and extreme. Parts of central and southern Idaho fall into the extreme. The Borah Peak earthquake is the largest ever recorded in Idaho.

"The scientific community and the public safety community don't have a good way to predict earthquakes," said Johnson. "We don't have the body of knowledge to predict earthquakes, so earthquakes unfortunately happen and we deal with the aftermath."

Because of the minimal threat....earthquakes do not have a specific plan of action, unlike other natural disasters that the region sees more frequently.

"Our number one concern is small stream flooding, thunderstorms, followed by wild-land fires," said Johnson. "And so we have plans for those specific threats."

Landslides are another concern here in Nez Perce County claiming the fifth spot on the priority list.

"And this is especially relevant because what happen in Washington in Oso lately," said Johnson. "It doesn't affect a lot of people but it is still a credible threat."

This cement wall is just one of the measure's that's been done to prevent any further erosion along this stretch.

"It's more of a case of a combination of things from the slope of the land to the soil type," said Johnson.

No matter what the factor is that triggers the next natural disaster, Nez Perce County is ready.

"The first thing is to make sure that we have adequate warning to the public and mass care to set up shelter and make sure you got food and water," said Johnson.

And while the chance for an earthquake is minimal, we're told it's definitely not impossible. A 3.1 earthquake struck Culdesac back in the 1940's.