Recently, I took part in an event at Central Elementary in Albany to celebrate the seismic upgrade that was completed at the school. Prior to the upgrade, Central Elementary was rated by seismic experts at “high risk of collapse” in the event of an earthquake. Thanks to the Seismic Grant Rehabilitation Program, administered by the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, Central Elementary School received a $1.5 million seismic upgrade, and is much safer should an earthquake strike.
In 2009, the Oregon State Legislature authorized funding for the Seismic Rehabilitation Grant Program, aimed at allocating state funds to retrofit schools and public safety facilities. Since then more than 21 schools in 15 Oregon school districts have received similar retrofits.
The intent of the Seismic Rehabilitation Grant Program is to upgrade existing critical public buildings to meet seismic safety standards. Some school districts have taken the opportunity to also utilize local funding resources to make other needed repairs and renovations at the same time. Central Elementary completed asbestos abatement during the recent seismic upgrade. This kind of partnership allows state and local government to work together toward preparedness goals.
There is still more work to be done. Seismic retrofits are currently underway at seven Oregon schools including a $1.5 million upgrade at Alameda Elementary school in Portland scheduled to be completed this September.
Keeping our citizens safe is a priority in our state. Scientists predict there is a 37 percent chance that a major Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake will strike Oregon in the next 50 years. Being prepared is essential, and strengthening our schools is important.
News story about the Central Elementary event:
Preparing for the “Big One” , by Grace Lim, KEZI, 4/24/13