Washington has the second-highest seismic risk in America because of its location and could see dangerous earthquakes or tsunami waves up to 42 feet tall.
But the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe has created the first tsunami vertical evacuation tower in the United States, providing a potential escape in case a deadly tsunami hits.
The tower can hold over 400 people and is 50 feet tall and 40 feet wide. The structure has two decks, one at 40 feet and the tallest at 50 feet high, according to the Washington Military Department.
But those in Tokeland would have to walk about 30 to 45 minutes to get to high ground, although waves are likely to hit within 20 minutes according to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
Because they would not have enough time to reach a safe high ground before a tsunami hits, the tribe decided to build the tower and ensure their safety.
The tribe built the tower near the middle of Tokeland, which allows all members of the community to be able to walk to the tower in 15 to 20 minutes.
The tribe also designed the tower so that it can withstand tsunami waves as well as shaking from earthquakes.
More tsunami towers are expected to be built along Washington’s coast, according to officials. Rovert Ezelle, Washington Emergency Management Division director, said he would be looking to the tribe for advice on future projects.