A state earthquake commission has released its findings on how Oregon would be affected by a massive earthquake.
The report details what would happen if a 9.0 magnitude quake struck along the Cascadia subduction zone - a fault line on the ocean floor that stretches from northern California to Canada. As you might expect, the most devastation would happen along the coast, but all areas west of the Cascades would see significant impacts, the report states.
"The last time there was a 9.0 earthquake was actually in January of 1700," said Sue Wu, lead earth science educator at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. "So the worry is that energy is going to be released in a large earthquake."
After the devastating earthquake that hit Japan in 2011, the Oregon state legislature ordered a comprehensive study from the Oregon earthquake safety commission.
"This study is very different from other studies we have done in the past," said chairman Kent Yu, who led a group of about 150 people from various agencies. He said the commission spent 14 months examining how Oregon's infrastructure would handle a massive quake, and the results are troubling.
The report said the main fuel storage area along the Willamette River sits on soil that would liquefy during a massive quake - the lack of supply would then cripple emergency response.
The report shows it could take one to three months to restore electricity in the Willamette Valley and one month to one year to bring back water service in the same area.
"We're in big trouble," Yu said.
Yu now recommends people have emergency supplies that will last two weeks instead of the current standard - 72 hours.
The report suggests improvements to infrastructure to prevent this worst-case scenario, including retro-fitting some downtown bridges.
"We cannot do all the things overnight," said Yu, of a process expected to take 50 years. "We all need to work together to share the burden."
Yu said the goal is to make Oregon capable of restoring critical services like water and power in two to four weeks.
The report also shows that a large quake could cause up to 5,000 deaths and destroy thousands of buildings.
The report will be in the hands of legislators by the end of the month.
Copyright 2013 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.
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