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SHELTON, Wash. – The parachutes slowly float down from Chinook helicopters, first carrying boxes of supplies, and later, paratroopers who use those supplies to set up a field operations center as part of a readiness drill for a megaquake and tsunami.
Thursday's exercise was part of a four-day event that ends Friday, called Cascadia Rising, built around the premise of a 9.0 magnitude earthquake 95 miles off of the coast of Oregon that results in a tsunami. Both events would likely destroy buildings, roads and buildings and disrupt communications.
As part of the drill, the airfield and adjoining Mason County Fairgrounds has been converted into a staging area with hundreds of members of the National Guard, a tactical operations center where officials communicate directly with officials at Camp Murray, a trauma center and various equipment, including decontamination trucks.