MANZANITA — Janice Zagata hopes her guests feel a little safer.
Earlier this year, the owner of the Ocean Inn in Manzanita stocked each room with go-bags for guests to take in a tsunami.
The waterfront hotel appears to be the first in the region to do so, said Linda Cook, the go-bag coordinator for the Emergency Volunteer Corps of Nehalem Bay.
“We can’t even say how excited we are,” she said.
Zagata became interested in go-bags after attending an emergency preparedness meeting a few years ago. She started to question what her role was in protecting guests who could be staying with her during a natural disaster.
“That’s always been a weight on my shoulders,” she said.
Zagata and her husband, Larry, started talking about what they could do to better prepare guests. After conversations with Cook and Tonquin Trading, an outdoor supply store that sells prepackaged go-bags, the couple decided to purchase go-bags for each of their 10 rooms.
Bags are filled with emergency supplies like blankets, water packets, food bars, light sticks, a basic first-aid kit and a map that details evacuation routes out of the tsunami inundation zone. At $100 apiece, the move cost a little over $1,000.
Zagata recognizes the financial reality of stocking rooms with go-bags is different for large hotels in comparison to her smaller inn, but said it’s too important not to consider.
“It’s a chunk of change, but in the big picture, if it can save a life, it’s worth it,” she said.
Getting the hospitality industry involved with emergency preparedness has been a goal for local and state emergency managers for years. A few years ago, Manzanita required hotels and vacation rentals to provide evacuation maps in guest rooms to give people unfamiliar with the area a better chance at getting to safer ground.
But having a hotel provide emergency supplies to guests is especially significant, as people visiting can be some of the most vulnerable. Having more people arriving to a tsunami evacuation area prepared with the basics will help recovery efforts, Cook said.
“People come here, … and if something happens, they are relying on people who just barely have enough for themselves,” Cook said.
Cook hopes the Ocean Inn will inspire other hotels along the coast to do the same. As awareness about tsunami risk builds, she believes the fears the tourism industry has had about addressing the topic have waned and that guests will start seeking out places that actively prepare for emergencies.
“It’s not a foreign concept, … and they come anyway,” Cook said. “We want to make sure they are prepared when they come”