Local earthquake retrofitting companies see spike in business - KPTV - FOX 12

Local earthquake retrofitting companies see spike in business

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Portland area companies retrofitting for earthquakes said they have more business than ever before, with wait lists so long it's taking months to even get an estimate.

This all stems from an article that came out this summer in the New Yorker, which highlighted the Cascadia subduction zone and what a big earthquake could do to the northwest. 

If you're home was built before 1985, or you live on a hill, you may need to take some extra steps to make sure you home can withstand a massive earthquake.

"Built in 1906, so it's about 110 years old," said Chris Bond.

Chris Bond's old home just got a facelift. It's now retrofitted for earthquakes.

"We attached the cross beam to the support beam. You do this stuff and then it's one and done, and you don't have to think about it anymore," said Chris.

Steve Gimmell's company called Earthquake Tech did the job on Chris's home. They specialize in retrofitting homes for earthquake safety.

Steve said since the New Yorker's article, business is booming so much there's a four month wait list just for an estimate.

"Our list extends into February and we're doing 12 sales calls a day," said Steve.

David Gilroy's company Simpson Strong-Tie makes the products that Steve installs and they test them using mock buildings on a massive shake table.

"Any recorded earthquake, we can test a full structure to. So, we know exactly where the weak spots in any structure are," said David.

David said they do tests up to a 9.3 magnitude.

"They attach the house itself to the sill and then you bolt the sill to the foundation," said Chris.

On average, a retrofit will run you about $3,000 to $6,000.

"It's a relatively small investment for you security, because if this house moves three inches off the foundation, it's a total loss," said Chris.

Chris has convinced dozens of his neighbors to get what's called the 'California Valve,' which runs under $500.

"This thing automatically shuts off your gas in the event of seismic activity of 3.0 or greater," said Chris.

He is also doing some things on his own, like strapping his water heater to the wall.

Now, he's trying to get all of his neighbors to do the same, so when the big one hits they'll still have a place to call home.

If you'd like to learn more about retrofitting your home, Simpson Strong-Tie will be holding two workshops in the area. You can register for workshops at the Beaverton Library on October 24 or  in Portland on December 5.

Thursday is National Shakeout Day. At 10:15 a.m., the state wants everyone to participate in a drill to drop, cover and hold on.

500,000 Oregonians have already committed to run earthquake drills on Thursday.

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