Tsunami pod gives Long Beach woman peace of mind

Tsunami pod 'less than a Harley, more than golf cart'

Jeanne Johnson of Long Beach, Washington is the first person in the US with a tsunami survival capsule, May 2017 (KOIN)
Jeanne Johnson of Long Beach, Washington is the first person in the US with a tsunami survival capsule, May 2017 (KOIN)

LONG BEACH, Wash. (KOIN) — If and when a major Cascadia subduction zone earthquake hits off the Northwest coast, there will be little residents who live there can do except run for the hills to try and take cover from a tsunami.

But Jeanne Johnson gave herself another option. The Long Beach woman became the 1st American to buy a “tsunami survival capsule” that includes fishing gear, flashing beacons, flares, a first aid trauma kit and enough food and water to last her 40 days.

The 300-pound pod, created by Survival Capsule based on the Puget Sound, is big enough to protect her and her dog, Trixey, when The Big One hits.

Jeanne Johnson of Long Beach, Washington is the first person in the US with a tsunami survival capsule, May 2017 (KOIN)
Jeanne Johnson of Long Beach, Washington is the first person in the US with a tsunami survival capsule, May 2017 (KOIN)

Survival Capsule president Julian Sharpe said there are plans to build bigger pods. Right now, the 2-person, 4.5-foot diameter spherical pod has made inroads in the Japanese market — and with Johnson.

“They’re realizing that this kind of product is something that may become part of our everyday life if we decide to live on the ocean,” Sharpe told KOIN 6 News.

Johnson, who lives about one-eighth of a mile from the Pacific Ocean, said now that she has the capsule she doesn’t think about dying anymore.

“It makes people uncomfortable to think about dying,” she said. “I don’t think about dying anymore. I think about having to get in here and lock the door.”

Jeanne Johnson of Long Beach, Washington is the first person in the US with a tsunami survival capsule, May 2017 (KOIN)
Jeanne Johnson of Long Beach, Washington is the first person in the US with a tsunami survival capsule, May 2017 (KOIN)

Once Johnson is in the pod, she’ll be strapped down, secure and airtight safe from whatever forces of nature are churning and swirling outside.

The capsule carries an emitter for the Coast Guard along with marine band radio.

The basic capsule costs $13,500, but Johnson said that’s a pittance to pay for peace of mind.

“It’s less than my Harley Davidson and more than a golf cart,” she told KOIN 6 News. “It’s like an insurance policy, I guess.”

A diagram of the Cascadia Subduction Zone provided by the Oregon Historical Society.
A diagram of the Cascadia Subduction Zone provided by the Oregon Historical Society.