Public Perception in Orting


Public Perception in Orting


Orting and Mount Rainier. Photo Credit: J. Black


Orting has had little public participation at the three meetings officials have held to inform the citizens of the dangers of living by Mount Rainier. In total, these meetings have drawn less than 100 people. Because of the lack of participation, these meetings have ceased being held on an annual basis.

Fielding says new people moving into town seem to be very interested in Rainier's hazards and how to prepare for them, but the "old-timers" seem to believe there is no danger (11/97). How many times have we heard disaster victims on the news say "this river has never flooded before" or "this hill won't slide - it's been here forever"! The fact is that people have short memories - because something does not happen every day or every year they forget it is a possibility. Also, people become confused over the definition of a 500-year disaster. Some think that means it will happen once every 500 years.

"My evacuation plan is this - if I hear it rumble, I'm going to get out."
- Orting resident in the News Tribune (Brown, 1995).

This quote indicates that the person believes the only danger - if any - will be an eruption, but we have learned that there is more to be concerned about.

Hopefully Orting citizens will not need to use their evacuation plan or lose their homes to a mudflow. It does seem pretty unlikely if you have not read the scientific papers or if you do not realize that the entire town is built on past lahar deposits. Unfortunately, it does sound a lot like the town of Armero, Colombia. This time though, they have taken the necessary steps to be prepared.


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