Eliza Collins -- USA TODAY
Oregon might not get an earthquake for half a century, but Peter Mulder is fortifying his basement anyway.
Mulder, a retired banker from Portland, Ore. has six months' worth of food, 50 gallons of water, tools, medicine and liquor stockpiled underneath his house. Every few months he changes the water, takes an inventory and adds more items.
"If you have a major quake here, a lot of the Portland area is just not prepared, and stores would be emptied in a matter of days and they wouldn't be restocked for weeks," Mulder says. "It's not a question of if, it's a question of when."
There is up to a 40% chance that a magnitude 8 or above earthquake will strike off the coast of Oregon within the next 50 years, according to a study released by Oregon State University. The 2011 Japanese earthquake was a magnitude 9.
The Cascadia Fault, which runs the length of Northern California to British Columbia, is the same type of fault as the San Andreas Fault. San Andreas was responsible for the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. The San Francisco earthquake was a magnitude 7.8 and caused an estimated 3,000 deaths, according the United States Geological Survey.
Every 300 years or so, the Cascadia Fault causes a massive earthquake - the last one was the year 1700.
Yumei Wang, a geohazards engineer for the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, has been studying earthquakes since the 1980s. Wang acknowledges that the Cascadia earthquake might not happen for decades, but it could also happen tomorrow and she believes people won't be ready.
"A very large magnitude earthquake is inevitable, and we are very ill-prepared and we must prepare for it if we are going to survive it," Wang says.
Michael Knight owns the Portland Preparedness Center. His store sells supplies for emergencies. Knight's most basic survival tip is to follow the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Red Cross' recommendation and have essentials to keep you alive for a minimum of 72 hours. The center sells "72-hour bags," which Knight says are designed to get you home after disaster strikes, the bags range from $40-$239.
Knight's store isn't specifically related to earthquake preparation, but he says a lot of his customers are stocking up for the earthquake forecast.
"They are self-reliant independent thinkers with no desire to get caught up in any bad social scenarios that might occur in the times ahead," Knight says. "Here in Oregon, their major concern seems to be the increasing likelihood of an earthquake in the magnitude 9-plus range, which local scientists say is overdue."
Tom Nelson, a retired military member from Milwaukie, Ore., says he feels a responsibility to help others if disaster strikes. He has stockpiled food, water and other essentials so that his family can survive without him if needed.
The Nelsons have created a survivalist haven. A hundred gallons of water are stored in the backyard, and the garage is full of extra food. Five old-fashioned cooking pans adorn their fireplace and mantel. Nelson believes they give the living room a rustic look but serve a second purpose as well - they can be used to cook food if the power goes out.
If he knows his family will be OK at home, Nelson will be able to travel wherever help is needed. He doesn't want to depend on anyone else while in the field so he keeps two "144-hour bags" in his truck at all times. A small trailer has been converted into a ham radio station so he can communicate with military personnel and average citizens.
David Kobler, an expert on the National Geographic show Doomsday Preppers, evaluates how people are preparing for disasters. While the show hasn't featured anyone concerned with the Cascadia quake, Kobler believes being ready for most disasters follows the same protocol.
After any disaster, there will be a lot of people in need. Emergency services won't be able to reach them all. Kobler says creating an emergency kit and having "bug-out bags" on hand will help you survive - even if you can't get help.
"You need to take care of yourself, and you need to take care of your neighbors," Kobler says. "You might have to be the person who helps rescue your neighbor."
Neighbors are a key element for survivalists. Larry Charles Holt wrote the novel Almost Home, a fictitious story about what happens after a power grid failure. For his novel, Holt did extensive research on the disintegration of society after disasters. Holt realized emergencies often bring out the worst in people.
"They will go in and take what they want; they will do what they want; they will say these are extraordinary circumstances and they require extraordinary measures," Holt says.
Kobler might evaluate survivalists for a living, but he acknowledges there are times when it can be too much. When people in the present are going without because they're spending so much money planning for the future, it could be an indicator of going overboard.
"If your prepping is hurting the people you love, then you're probably going a little too far," says Kobler.