OR study shows more than 1,000 schools would crumble in quake - KPTV - FOX 12

Study: 1,000 Oregon schools would crumble in major quake

Posted: Updated: May 8, 2013 10:20 PM
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

More than 1,000 Oregon schools would crumble in the event of a powerful earthquake.

Those are the troubling findings of a study done at the state level that has prompted the legislature to offer up financial aid to schools deemed high risk.

Alameda Elementary, built in 1921, is one of 21 K-12 schools in Oregon to receive some of that funding to help retrofit the building to make it up to code.

According to the Office of Emergency Management, Alameda Elementary is set to get $1.5 million in state funds through the Seismic Rehabilitation Grant Program.

"If it is an issue in more schools across the state, my hope is that these changes happen outside of the grant, and the state representatives figure out a way to make that happen," said Alameda Principal Raddy Lurie.

"There are big parts of Alameda that could crumble and fall," said Ted Wolf, a writer and parent activist who has researched the subject.

Wolf says Alameda Elementary, like most schools of the same vintage, are at high risk of a collapse during a major earthquake, and is pleased that state lawmakers are now taking action to prepare.

"Lots and lots of buildings in Oregon need help, but for most part we chose what buildings we are in," said Wolf.

"Kids don't get to chose what they occupy for school. That's just where they're sent. So if schools are unsafe, we have a social problem, and we need to deal with that," he added. 

Parents tell FOX 12 they couldn't agree more.

"You know, this is really scary, but they've got to start somewhere, and they're starting this summer, and I think it's great," said Melissa Sullivan.

"We definitely want to err on the side of safety for children," said parent Kay Lybeck.

Many say they are now hoping that fixing our state's schools is just the beginning to making the state prepared in the event of an earthquake.

"It shows that this something we all have to think about in our homes, in our work places and just by being citizens of Oregon," said Wolf.

OEM says construction on Alameda Elementary is set to begin this summer, likely in June.

Administrators say part of the retrofitting will be paid through the state's seismic grant, and the rest paid from the newly passed Portland Public Schools Bond.

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