HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Quake advice doesn’t cut it

Written September 11th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
What if our bridges all fell down, as we're told they might during a subduction zone earthquake?

What if our bridges all fell down, as we’re told they might during a subduction zone earthquake?

The people studying the possibility of a massive earthquake destroying much of western Oregon now say it looks slightly more likely than before. So you’d think the state and local governments would be interested in doing more to help citizens survive when the Big One hits.

Researchers including Chris Goldfinger at Oregon State came out last week to say the chances of a major quake hitting the Oregon’s central coastal region in the next 50 years now are 15 to 20 percent, up from the previous estimate of between 14 and 17 percent.

OPB produced a feature called “Aftershock.” (It’s at http://www.opb.org/news/widget/aftershock-find-your-cascadia-earthquake-story.)

You put in your ZIP code and you get estimates of damage and how long public services and everything else may be out of action. For 97321, seismically strong buildings and most houses built after 1970 should be mostly OK. But bridges may fail, highways may become unusable and underground utility systems are likely to rupture.

The standard advice is for every household to put aside two weeks of supplies per person, including food and water. But water and sewer service may be out for more than a year, electricity for two or three months, and health care facilities may be unable to work at normal levels for three years. So what good are two weeks of supplies after the two weeks are up?

If the electricity is out and the major highways are broken or blocked by fallen bridges, we’re not going to be able to buy gas or drive very far. So how useful is the other standard advice to have a “go bag” in the car?

The advice isn’t bad. We all should do what we can to prepare. But what we can do as individuals isn’t enough.

One appropriate reaction to the updated assessment of the quake’s likelihood would be to set up earthquake centers in each neighborhood, centers that can be reached on foot, where people could obtain basic supplies to help them survive. Neighbors could do this on their own, but how many actually will? City and county government help is needed on things like zoning, funding, organization, governance, and so forth.

Oregon and some local jurisdictions have been at pains to prepare for the effects of global warming, as though wetter winters and drier summers posed an immediate threat to anybody’s life, if indeed they occur. It would make far more sense to get going on a program to encourage or force the establishment of earthquake survival centers — just in case the science is right and Oregon hits on the Big One’s one-fifth probability over the next 50 years. (hh)


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6 responses to “Quake advice doesn’t cut it”

  1. Jackson Cauter says:

    Should I believe my own eyes. Hering advocating for more government action rather than less. A stunning turnabout.

  2. Craig Ziegenhagel says:

    I am doing my part in preparing for my family and I am sharing all the data on Facebook with my friends. I fear most people are not preparing. Living in Millersburg I had a personal goal to encourage our city to prepare and develop city hall into a emergency hub for our citizens. A place they could come to for assistance, help, supplies and limited shelter. Two years ago I proposed a generator, review of insurance and a engineering study of city hall. Nothing was done. The City is finally working on getting a generator but that is all. As a member on the budget committee I will propose over the next few years additional spending for emergency preparation equipment, supplies, communication and training. Our region could be faced with some huge challenges. It is best to be prepared both personally and in our local governments.

  3. Craig Ziegenhagel says:

    I am doing my part in preparing for my family and I am sharing all the data on Facebook with my friends. I fear most people are not preparing. Living in Millersburg I had a personal goal to encourage our city to prepare and develop city hall into a emergency hub for our citizens. A place they could come to for assistance, help, supplies and limited shelter. Two years ago I proposed a generator, review of insurance and a engineering study of city hall. Nothing was done. The City is finally working on getting a generator but that is all. As a member on the budget committee I will propose over the next few years additional spending for emergency preparation equipment, supplies, communication and training. Our region could be faced with some huge challenges. It is best to be prepared both personally and in our local governments.

  4. HowlingCicada says:

    “””we’re not going to be able to buy gas or drive very far. So how useful is the other standard advice to have a “go bag” in the car?”””

    Forget the car. Get:

    1 – A mountain bike (or any sturdy type with a wide gear range) for every member of the family.

    2 – A trailer or other means to carry the “go bag,” camping and survival supplies, bike tools and parts, and little kids. If you don’t trust government to make some way to cross rivers with downed bridges, add an inflatable raft. Almost any boat can carry a bike; try that with a car!

    3 – Good skills, geographical awareness, and well-exercised bodies (hint: bikes are not emergency-only).

    It might even be fun, especially with motorized monsters stuck or disabled. Shouldn’t take over a week to reach functioning civilization.

    • hj.anony1 says:

      “…well-exercised bodies…” Yes! Lose some FAT people.

      Gives me an idea. Survival Weekend!! It can be Albany Park & Rec’s new event. It will be where participants can test out and hone their survival skills. “Go Bag” preparedness tips. Think of it as the home improvement trade show for living post-disaster. Complete with elephant ears!

      My tongue is only somewhat planted in my cheek. This is something that might make a difference. Power brokers take my idea free of charge. Just add a nod to HH and HJ. Cheers!

  5. Bill Kapaun says:

    Sounds like the people at OSU want a little more research money.

 

 
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