On Tuesday, February 2, Mayor Kitty Piercy will attend a White House summit highlighting the importance of community resilience to earthquake risks, including seismically-sound construction practices and earthquake early warning systems. Stakeholders from state, local and tribal governments, private companies, universities, and foundations have been invited to the event in Washington D.C. to discuss the need for early earthquake warnings and explore steps to make such systems a reality. (The White House media advisory is attached below.)
The event will be streamed live on February 2 beginning at 9:30 a.m. PST.
For years, geologists and emergency managers have warned of the likelihood of a major seismic event in the Northwest and taken steps to prepare. An article in 2015 in the New Yorker magazine, “The Big One,” has helped to dramatically raise awareness and concern about the issue among the general public and with national leaders including the White House.
The City of Eugene, the University of Oregon, the Eugene Water and Electric Board and other local partners are taking earthquake readiness seriously, and are expressing support for federal assistance for an early warning system.
“A system that includes sensors and automatic shut-offs at key public and private facilities would significantly enhance our region’s resilience to seismic risks.
The University of Oregon and the Oregon delegation, especially Congressman Peter DeFazio, have been at the forefront of a developing a public west coast earthquake early warning system,” said Mayor Piercy. “For more than 20 years, UO has managed the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network in Oregon, the backbone of the network. Our congressman helped secure funding that has enabled the purchase of additional sensors for the network. We need to work with the federal government to further develop the system.”
In addition, EWEB is working with the University to add four seismic monitors at critical utility infrastructure that will contribute valuable data to the regional network, as well provide automated early warnings to shift equipment into safer operating modes.
The City of Eugene is taking many concrete steps to improve community resilience to earthquakes. A systematic seismic evaluation of key City bridges and facilities is currently underway.
The City has a number of staff preparing for and participating in Cascadia Rising, a broad-based FEMA-coordinated regional emergency management exercise scheduled for June 7-10, 2016. The exercise will provide important experience to help local responders and emergency management be more effective in a real Cascadia subduction zone earthquake.