Community Preparedness

By Tim Cook

A street in Valdivia Chile after the large earthquake May 22nd 1960

The recent 5 alarm fire in our neighborhood reminds us of the importance of community and working together to improve emergency preparedness. Many who had to evacuate homes during the fire felt a sense of vulnerability, which sparked new discussions about individual resilience.

During the fire, we saw the community come together to help neighbors. The concern for each other was visible, from neighbors hosing off each other’s homes to prevent embers from starting new fires, to people opening their homes for evacuees to stay.

While the fire was completely unexpected, there are other likely catastrophes that we can prepare for ahead of time.

In the case of the fire, the fire department was able to get to us in a reasonable time period. In an event like a major earthquake, streets will need to be cleared of debris first before trucks and assistance will be able to reach us. The fire department will be overwhelmed and maybe not visible on each street that needs help for days or weeks.

What is one of the most effective steps we can take to prepare for an earthquake?

In a recent press release, City Council Commissioner Steve Novick has encouraged all Portland citizens to ensure their homes are bolted to the foundation.

Like a tree, a wood home can withstand an incredible amount of flex and return to neutral if it’s well rooted. Most pre 1976 homes are not attached to their foundations.

In 1960, during the largest earthquake ever recorded, the city of Valdivia, Chile lost approximately 40% of its commercial and residential real estate. The housing stock from this town looks eerily like NE Portland’s turn of the century wood framed homes. Many of the homes would have fared much better if they were anchored to the ballast that the foundation provides. A famous photo from the disaster looks like it could have been taken from Rodney St. in Eliot.

As Portlanders improve the strength of our homes, we reduce the reliance on city services during a catastrophic mega quake, in addition to improving recovery time of the economy.

One thought on “Community Preparedness

  1. If careful investigation is made, both City of Portland and Red Cross will be found to be completely unprepared and not available as resources for the Big Earthquake. Eliot will have to cope by itself, and individuals will have to cope by themselves.


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