Ground Zero: Orting Washington
"Homes in this area are in greater risk of being hit by a mudflow from Mount Rainier than of catching on fire." - Kevin Scott, USGS in Seattle Times.
Orting is a small city located approximately 30 miles from Mount Rainier within Pierce County. It sits in a fertile valley between two major rivers, the Carbon and Puyallup Rivers, and is built entirely on several layers of lahar deposits. Population in Orting in 1997 was approximately 3,300 people. This number includes 200 non-ambulatory citizens who live in the State Soldier's Home (Fielding, 11/97).
Based on past lahar flow and the structure of Mount Rainier, Orting has been designated the town most at risk from any type of lahar activity from Mount Rainier. Scientists predict lahars could reach Orting in as little as 30 minutes from origin. Because of this, Orting has begun to take many measures to reduce the risk to their citizens.
Orting is also the most prepared for volcanic activity. Scott Fielding, Orting's Fire Chief, says Orting is at ground zero - they have no choice except to be prepared! Chief Fielding has been working for several years to make sure that everyone understands the dangers of Mount Rainier and knows exactly how to get to safety when the time comes. No other towns have done this so far, but hopefully other towns will soon follow Orting's example.
The following sections will explain what Orting has done to prepare for volcanic activity from Mount Rainier.
Note the altitude on the picture to the right.