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Seismologists say catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in the Pacific Northwest is inevitable

Washington town builds vertical tsunami refuge

Seismologists say a catastrophe like the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan could hit the Pacific Northwest any time.

Coastal communities from Northern California to British Columbia have a number of projects in the works that are intended to protect lives during a similar disaster.

The projects include the first structure in the U.S. built as a vertical tsunami refuge.

The tsunami refuge will be the roof of a gym of a new elementary school under construction in Westport, Wash., which is being built to withstand a strong earthquake.

The gym’s roof will be 55 feet above sea level, above the tsunami surge projected by scientists.

Voters approved a $13.8 million bond to build the school, which will be completed next spring.