Earthquake training goes door-to-door

Bureau of Emergency Management trains citizens

This building in Portland is unreinforced and would likely collapse in an earthquake. Sept. 16, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
This building in Portland is unreinforced and would likely collapse in an earthquake. Sept. 16, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — If Portland is rocked by a big earthquake, inspectors will be needed to check buildings for their habitability.

That’s why Portland’s Bureau of Emergency Management is training people in the trades and citizens on what to do and look for after an earthquake.

“I think we’re more prepared than we were five years ago but we’re not prepared for a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake, for sure,” said Carmen Merlo, the director of the Bureau of Emergency Management.

“We don’t have enough engineers, architects to come around and inspect every individual home,” Merlo said. “We’re going to worry about critical infrastructure first, so it may take weeks if not longer to get to individual residences.”

About 70% of the homes in Portland were built before 1970. That means they are likely not bolted to the foundation.

Old Town Chinatown is a big concern, officials said. There are many un-reinforced masonry building that will likely fall apart and collapse.

First responders will be busy initially in the downtown area and with hospitals and schools. Neighborhoods may not get a look for a while, and this training will help people to be able to assess homes in their neighborhood for livability.

Kathryn Stewart with the Alameda neighborhood emergency team said she knows it’s going to be busy for first responders.

In the neighborhood, she said, “We’re going to be going house-to-house in our neighborhoods checking on people we know, people we don’t know.”

She signed up for the training “so I can assess the buildings and tell you it is not safe to go back in that building. .. It’s just a matter of trying to figure out how much damage and how safe it is to go in.”

The neighborhood training, Merlo said, “will really help people feel comfortable about whether or not they can reoccupy their house after an earthquake.”

Register for free earthquake assessment training through the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management

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