City Club of Portland shares suggestions for recovery after the - KPTV - FOX 12

City Club of Portland shares suggestions for recovery after the ‘Big One’

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Many have heard the dire warnings from geologists and city officials about what would happen if a magnitude 9 earthquake rocked the Pacific Northwest, but there has been far less focus on how the Portland area would rebound from a mega-quake.

A City Club of Portland committee has spent months looking into the question of rebounding after a catastrophic earthquake, and they are now sharing their suggestions to help the metro area.

In particular, the group is worried about a six-mile stretch along the Willamette River in northwest Portland, where a big earthquake could damage or destroy the state's main energy hub.

According to the state, about 90 percent of Oregon’s liquid fuel are in tanks located in that area along the river, and some of the tanks are more than 100 years old.

There are grave concerns that in a mega-quake, tanks and pipelines will rupture, spill and catch fire, creating not just a shortage of fuel but an environmental disaster. Geologists call this a catastrophic risk.

As far as Portland buildings go, even those built in the 1990s with new seismic codes may not survive a mega-quake, and in the City of Bridges, many of those crossings would likely topple, even the Burnside Bridge, which underwent a seismic upgrade in 2002.

Though all of these discoveries sound frightening, one of the authors of the report is advising residents to not panic.

“I think that we can rebound,” Teri Martin said. “I think if we recognize we are all in this together and that we all start working now and investing now and connecting with one another, that we will not only survive but we will thrive.”

The committee shared five of their recommendations Wednesday:

  • Retrofit and upgrade tanks and pipelines to reduce the risk of a fuel disaster
  • Portland should set new seismic standards for buildings and homes
  • Multnomah County should upgrade or replace the Burnside Bridge.
  • Local governments should appoint a resilience officer to coordinate their efforts
  • Portland-area residents need to prepare for a big quake and join community mapping committees

Some area communities are already including plans for mega quake recovery in new development. The new Beaverton High School is being built to withstand a big quake and should remain standing and be able to serve as a community center, offering refuge and shelter with food and water for those who live in the area.

The full city club votes on the report later this month. They have also made a copy of the report available on their website, PDXCityClub.org.

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