Oregon's earthquake risk profiled in 'New Yorker' - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon's earthquake risk profiled in 'New Yorker'

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A large earthquake would likely destroy many of the bridges statewide A large earthquake would likely destroy many of the bridges statewide

An article published in The New Yorker paints a bleak picture of Oregon’s fate in the event of a major earthquake.

The article quotes a FEMA regional director as saying the agency’s assumption is that “everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”

OSU oceanographer Chris Goldfinger, who is also featured in the article, said that particular assertion is a bit of an exaggeration, but agrees Oregon is looking at a major disaster, comparable to what happened to Japan in 2011.

“They lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 people.  The number would have been ten times that if they were completely unprepared the way we are,” said Goldfinger.

Goldfinger, who is one of the world’s leading experts on subduction zone earthquakes, was in Japan when a 9.0 magnitude earthquake shook the island, and the resulting tsunami wiped out portions of the coastline.

“You could actually feel the earth’s plates grinding and cracking and popping,” said Goldfinger. “Partly through all of this, I was thinking this is what Cascadia is going to be like.”

Goldfinger said progress is being made to prepare the state for the inevitable earthquake, but that it’s been slow. 

Thousands of buildings still need to be retrofitted to endure the shaking during a quake, among them at least a thousand schools.

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