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Earthquake preparedness presentation focus

Earthquake preparedness presentation focus

An evening presentation last week sponsored by the American Red Cross and Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management focused on proper earthquake preparedness.

The presentation, held on Monday, Sept. 16, in the Lakeview High School cafeteria, drew in a number of local residents and public officials to learn proper precautionary measures for such an emergency situation.

Annmarie Huber, a volunteer with the American Red Cross, and Althea Rizzo with the Oregon Emergency Management agency, led the presentation, entitled “Surviving the Big One — Understanding and Preparing for a Major Earthquake Event in Oregon.”

The evening’s informational component included an examination of the Pacific Northwest’s geologic features, including those that could influence an eventual large-scale earthquake event.  The Cascadia Subduction Zone is one such example, a 600-mile long feature that spans from British Columbia, Canada, all the way to northern California.

“If you’re already set for a severe winter storm, then you’re probably already 90 percent there preparing for (an earthquake),” Rizzo said.

Rizzo reviewed the mechanics of plate tectonics and their nature of motion that ultimately leads to seismic activity.

Geologic hazards specific to Oregon include earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis and landslides, she said, with both the former and latter likely occurrences in Lake County.

Rizzo said that there is a 37 percent chance of a major earthquake event in the next 50 years.  The last major Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake was recorded in 1700, and it is unknown when the next one will occur, she said.

Along with the science behind such seismic occurrences, personal family preparedness techniques were also a point of primary focus.

Local infrastructure recovery following a devastating event was also cited as a factor of discussion.  Liquid fuel availability and vulnerability along with electricity, local public safety agency and drinking water and sewer services were among those to see impacts in the event of a catastrophic event.

Oregon’s building codes first addressed seismic preparations and reinforcement in 1990, so it should come as no surprise that the vast majority of older buildings are not structurally prepared for such events, by original design.

Likewise, catastrophic events in recent years have led to important lessons in emergency response time, Rizzo said.

“We learned a lot from Katrina and Sandy had a much better response,” she said. “It takes time to come back from this.”

Huber noted the checklist for family earthquake preparation includes knowing what hazards exist, developing a plan and building an emergency kit.

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