Oregon ill-prepared for a 'big one'

Audit of emergency plans finds major weaknesses in state's disaster preparations.

BY JIM SKILLINGTON | January 26, 2018

The Cascadia Subduction Zone stretches from Canada to California
Credit: FEMA / Photo by Mustafa Lazkani

If the 7.9 magnitude earthquake in the Bay of Alaska earlier this week had occurred in Oregon instead, residents might have learned just how ill-prepared the state is for a catastrophic disaster.

The results of an audit of local and state-wide emergency management plans announced Thursday by the state's Secretary of State found Oregon doesn't even meet federal baseline standards for disaster response.

"Oregon is at risk of a major Cascadia earthquake and tsunami that will threaten infrastructure, cost potentially billions of dollars, and result in numerous deaths," the report states.

According to a 2012 report, 90 percent of Oregon's four million residents could be directly impacted by such an event which could results in 1,250 to more than 10,000 deaths.

"Inadequate" staffing is partially blamed for lack of preparations the audit said. The State Legislature has failed to provide adequate requested funding for the state's Office of Emergency Management (OEM).

Entitled "The State Must Do More to Prepare Oregon for a Catastrophic Disaster” the report said the state's preparedness plan is still in a draft form and is incomplete. Without an adopted plan, the state risks losing federal emergency funds.

In a lengthy separate statement, Dennis Richardson, the Secretary of State, acknowledged completing and implementing the state's disaster plans will take some time. Reflecting on the need to always be prepared he learned from his parents, he suggested residents should start now to create their only family plans.

"Each of us would be wise to take immediate action to improve our individual, family, and community’s ability to respond to major natural or man-made disasters. We each can do something to prepare for the future, and now is the time to start."

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More links on Earthquakes


Related Links:

The full report of the Secretary of State's audit


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