Cargo bikers to come to the rescue if the Big One hits Seattle

SEATTLE -- Many around the Northwest are still on edge over a New Yorker magazine article that described the devastating damage Seattle and the surrounding communities might see if and when a major earthquake hits.

A Federal Emergency Management Agency official was quoted in the article as saying that everything west of I-5 would be "toast," if a magnitude 8.0 or higher struck.

Scientists predict many people would be trapped without access to supplies.

“Mostly people are going to be isolated from their source of food and water and power,” said John Vidale, the state's seismologist.

That’s where cargo riders come in. They are bicyclists who can haul or carry supplies in case of disaster, and get around on damaged roads, where vehicles with four wheels may not be able to go.

“I could load up water, bags of beans and food,” Morgan Scherer, a local cargo rider, said Wednesday. “I could load up vaccines, or any kind of medical supplies.”

Scherer is one of several cargo cyclists in Seattle who have been training for the past two years to help victims of an earthquake.

“If the 'Big One' hits, the infrastructure -- roads, bridges and utilities -- is going to be damaged,” said Cameron Satterfield, of King County Emergency Management. “Any way we can help mitigate that and get supplies and things that people need is going to be really crucial.”

Bicyclists have been used to help out in disasters around the world. During Hurricane Sandy in New York, cyclists brought food to trapped residents and transported medics to places vehicles couldn’t reach.

Scherer hopes more people get on board with cargo riding, and she believes that the frightening New Yorker article may be the boost they need.

This year, the disaster relief trials for cargo riders in Seattle will start Sept. 12 at the Garfield Community Center in the Central District. If you are interested in taking part, click here for more details.