FEMA funding 'seismic upgrade' for Portland homeowners - KPTV - FOX 12

FEMA funding 'seismic upgrade' for Portland homeowners

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Ryan Clemmer of Enhabit explains the benefits to retrofitting a home with a seismic upgrade to protect it from damage during an earthquake. (KPTV) Ryan Clemmer of Enhabit explains the benefits to retrofitting a home with a seismic upgrade to protect it from damage during an earthquake. (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

The threat of a major earthquake looms over many in the Pacific Northwest, but some local homeowners now have a little more peace of mind when it comes to the threat a catastrophic event.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has helped these resident to prepare with a seismic upgrade, which involves bolting a home to its foundation.

FEMA is now spending $500,000 to help retrofit Portland-area homes in this way.

The announcement was made Monday at a home in southeast Portland that's receiving the seismic upgrade. The funding from FEMA will go to 150 local homeowners, to pay for up to half of the cost of the retrofit.

Homeowner Kiernan Cannistra said she applied for the upgrade after the 2015 article in The New Yorker that drew a grim picture of what “the Big One" would do to Portland.

"So my kids started to have questions and get nervous and scared, and we thought, ‘OK, let’s not put this off any longer,’” she explained. “So we started investigating what we have to do and how we can be prepared."

These seismic upgrades are all part of a pilot project between the city of Portland and the non-profit group Enhabit, which claims the upgrade is not as complicated as many homeowners think.

"We tie the rest of the framing of the house together to make a very rigid diaphragm so that first floor is connected to the concrete," Ryan Clemmer of Enhabit explained. “If you have a home that has a basement that's opened and exposed, you can see all this framing. It’s quite easy, if you have things that are finished with dry wall, it makes it a little more complicated, but drywall is pretty easy to work with.”

This is phase two of the pilot project, with only 23 homes upgraded during the first phase.          

The homeowners who received the FEMA funds were randomly selected from a wait list, with all the homes are under median market value.

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