Oregon Resiliency Report

​The Oregon Resilience Plan focuses on Oregon’s physical infrastructure, with a special emphasis on business and community continuity following a Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. Because the state’s physical infrastructure supplies the foundation for community resilience, we believe that the recommendations proposed here, if implemented over the next 50 years, will enhance our infrastructure, strengthen our communities, and support the growth of the state’s economy. Because the level of economic development and the condition of infrastructure varies among Oregon communities, we suggest that local communities use the framework and the gap-analysis methodology presented in this report to conduct more refined assessments of local seismic and tsunami hazards, and develop community-specific recommendations to meet their unique response and recovery needs.

In 2014, the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) developed "Preparing for a Cascadia Subduction Zone Tsunami: A Land Use Guide for Oregon Coastal Communities​."​ This guide provides coastal communities examples of comprehensive plan language and development code provisions that can serve to help communities reduce their risk to tsunami hazards. Also, DLCD created the "Planning for Natural Hazards: Oregon Technical Resource Guide," with assistance from the Community Planning Workshop at the University of Oregon in 2000.

In 2015, FEMA approved Oregon's Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan. The stated mission of this plan is to create a disaster-resilient State of Oregon, elucidated by its vision that natural hazard events will result in no loss of life, minimal property damage, and limited long-term impacts to the economy.

Update: Upon the passage of SB 850 (2017), the Community Resilience bill, the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission (OSSPAC) held its first working group meeting on Sept. 12, 2017. SB 850 directed OSSPAC to establish two work groups tasked with:

  • To examine Oregon’s residential earthquake insurance market and review best practice, including barriers of affordability and availability. OSSPAC is looking at the 20-year-old program of the California Earthquake Authority (CEA) and is being supported by the Insurance Division at the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services.​
  • To examine mass care/mass displacement (MC/MD), investigate alternatives, and attempt to identify best practices and effective means for state and local government and Indian tribes to prepare for MC/MD and other catastrophic consequences of a major earthquake or tsunami event, including but not limited to:
    • (a) The provision of temporary shelters and semi-permanent and permanent housing;
    • (b) Supplying adequate food and water;
    • (c) Supplying emergency health services; and
    • (d) Providing transition services and recovery assistance.
OSSPAC is being supported by both the Oregon Department of Human Services and the Oregon Health Authority-Public Health Division. The commission shall deliver its report to the State Resilience Office no later than Sept. 30, 2018.​
Update: Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington are part of the Region X Infrastructure and Resilience (CIR) sub-Committee. The CIR sub-Committee meets on a quarterly basis and the location of meetings vary between states. The Cascadia Subduction Zone planning and coordination are key topics at all meetings and bring together key staff on mitigation, preparedness, planning, response and recovery, all of which impact the resilience efforts of each state. 
Update: SB 33 brought forward the most critical actions to be implemented in the 2015-17 biennium. Major items include:
  • Establishing the State Resilience Officer in the Governor’s Office.
  • Identifying additional revenue for transportation in HB 2017 (2017).
  • Requiring the Oregon Public Utilities Commission to have energy providers conduct seismic assessments.
  • Increasing the Seismic Rehabilitation Grant Program from $30 million to $205 million in the 2015-17 biennium. In the 2017-19 biennium the amount was set at $121 million.

 ​​​​​​​​​​​Outstanding recom​mendations

• Charging the Oregon Public Utility Commission to define criteria for seismic vulnerability assessments that will be applied by operating companies in the energy and information and communications sectors.

• Developing policies and standards for installation of temporary bridges following earthquake disruption.

• Adopting a two‐tiered ratings system that indicates the number of hours/days that a citizen in a community can expect to wait before major relief arrives, and the number of days/months that a citizen can expect to wait before the community itself achieves 90 percent restoration of roads and municipal services.
• Adoption of a two-level rating system. The first level would indicate the time period that citizens should anticipate relying on emergency supplies. The second level would indicate the time anticipated for 90 percent restoration of roads and services. The rating system should follow the four zones proposed by the Oregon Resilience Plan: tsunami zone, coastal earthquake only, valley, and eastern zone. Standards and methodology need to be developed for the system to be consistent across zones, and applicable at the community level.​​​​
• Improve earthquake/tsunami education efforts
  • Teach an earthquake/tsunami curriculum to Oregon’s school children.
  • Require that all businesses over a certain size and located in tsunami inundation zones have tsunami evacuation plans.
  • Develop plans for getting visitors back to their own homes.
  • Use relocation strategies to meet target goals on a community basis as part of overall mitigation planning.
  • Use tsunami resistant infrastructure for critical transportation, port facilities, and utilities.
• Land Use
  • Encourage communities to develop a tsunami hazard overlay zone and other tsunami resilience provisions related to land use, which could be adopted and used within local land use codes. The code language could include options for incentives, requirements, and best practices for assisting communities to become more resilient to tsunamis. Guidance materials could include options such as incentives and regulations related to allowed uses in inundation zone areas, tsunami evacuation route requirements, use requirements for vacated areas, and mitigation measures for development within inundation areas.
  • Support local government consideration of ORS 455.446-447 requirements (as potentially amended) for minimum requirements within local comprehensive plans and implementing ordinances.
  • Encourage communities to consider strategies to increase the tsunami resilience of those parts of the community that cannot be relocated. These strategies could include such things as the development of structures of such size and bulk that, if appropriate for the area, a vertical evacuation structure could be included as the top component. These strategies may need to include revision of zoning codes to allow suitable building height provisions for these structures.
• Reconstruction
  • Look at alternative strategies to reduce environmental impacts of debris for coastal communities.
  • Develop a tool box of creative methods to recycle and reuse debris.
• Coastal Economic Resilience
  • Require the state to do an assessment to determine an accurate level of coastal business operation following the Cascadia subduction zone event as a base case for recovery efforts.
  • Require the Oregon Tourism Commission to work with the coastal hospitality industry and communities to develop plans for taking care of visitors following the Cascadia event and plan strategies for rebuilding the tourism industry after the event.
  • Modify the use of room taxes to develop funding for mitigation efforts directly related to the evacuation of visitors to high ground, the provision of relief for visitors, and the development of mitigation and post-disaster recovery efforts. This could also include the creation of emergency funds.
  • Develop economic incentives for recycling/reuse of post-disaster debris.
​​• Disaster Resilience and Sustainability
  • Adopt a two-tiered rating system that gives (1) the number of hours/days that a citizen in a community can expect to wait before major relief arrives and (2) the number of days/months that a citizen can expect to wait before the community itself achieves 90-percent restoration of roads and services.
  • The rating system should adopt the zones established by the resilience report: tsunami zone, coastal earthquake-only zone, valley zone, and eastern zone.
  • Standards and methodology must be developed to ensure that the rating system is consistent.
  • ​Communities and counties should use these standards and methodology to develop standards for cities and unincorporated areas.
• Accelerate the Retirement or Full Upgrade of Vulnerable Buildings. Initially, the danger of URM and non-ductile concrete buildings should be disclosed at the time of building sale or lease. Through market pressures and upgrades triggered by other building repairs and changes, upgrades can be made to many of these structures.

• Improve Plan Review and Construction Oversight. Require a licensed design professional or structural engineer to provide plan reviews for critical buildings (Cat. 3 & 4) reciprocal with the licensing required to provide the design. Strengthen state building code to expand Special Inspections and Structural Observations to include special inspections and structural observations for most commercial structures, critical non-structural components, and wall connections in tilt-up and CMU buildings with light framed roofs and floors.
• Long-term Recommendations:
  • Enhance design and maintenance standards and requirements for bridges and unstable slopes, transit, rail, ports, and airfields based on the priority of a lifeline route.
  • Develop a temporary bridge installation policy and standards, including an assessment of the number of temporary bridges or amount of temporary bridge materials to stockpile for emergency use. Coordinate with the DOTs of neighbouring states to create an inventory of (portable, temporary) Bailey bridges that includes notes on their locations and transportation methods. Consider procurement of additional temporary bridge materials.
  • ​​Support research on retrofit methods and strategies for Cascadia subduction zone earthquake loads. Support research on tsunami effects, and develop a design policy for tsunami loads.
• Develop regulatory oversight for energy sector companies that are not regulated by the OPUC and create engagement in seismic mitigation efforts for those companies, including appropriate cost recovery for such oversight function.

• Energy sector companies should institutionalize long-term seismic mitigation programs and should work with the appropriate oversight authority to further improve the resilience and operational reliability of their Critical Energy Infrastructure (CEI) facilities.

• Form a public-private partnership with the objective of reducing the state’s vulnerability to seismic events by evaluating the diversification of locations for the storage of liquid fuels and identification of new liquid fuel energy corridors (new locations to be defined).

• Evaluate the options for improving power supply to coastal areas located outside of the tsunami inundation zone.

• Utilize the Oregon Office of Emergency Management’s public-private sector position to help ensure coordinated planning, information sharing, and interoperability among critical organizations and agencies. The position will also ensure that work being performed by this entity and its partners helps provide public education and outreach to local, county, and state agencies and organizations.

• The state of Oregon should provide statutory authority for a prescriptive waiver of routine permitting requirements and processes for the design, construction, and restoration of energy infrastructure and subsequent actions, if it is determined that the waiver is in the public interest and is necessary to address an actual or impending emergency caused by a natural or manmade disaster.
• Information and communications companies should conduct seismic vulnerability assessments (SVA) on all of their infrastructure facilities, and they should work with the appropriate agencies and stakeholders to achieve timely completion of the assessments to understand existing vulnerabilities.

• The OPUC may need to define the criteria for seismic vulnerability assessments.

• The OPUC should review the results of the seismic vulnerability assessments and the systems’ resilience to other natural disasters (within the scope of their mission).

• The implementation of this recommendation could also involve the participation of the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI), the Building Codes Division, and the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission (OSSPAC).

• Companies in this sector should institutionalize long-term seismic mitigation programs.

• The state of Oregon should provide statutory authority for a prescriptive waiver of routine permitting requirements and processes for the design, construction, and restoration of communication and information infrastructure, if it is determined that the waiver is in the public interest and is necessary to address an actual or impending emergency (and subsequent actions) caused by a natural or manmade disaster.
• Public agencies should be advised that the Oregon Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (ORWARN) is a vital resource and membership is recommended.

• Service providers from all sectors are advised to plan for and support employee preparedness.

• Service providers for all essential sectors should be encouraged to develop business continuity plans.

• Encourage firefighting agencies and water providers to establish joint standards for use in planning the firefighting response to a large seismic event.

• Identify and address potential analytical laboratory capacity limitations.

• Identify potential regulatory and laboratory strategies.

• Provide training to utilities on resulting recommendations.

• Require wastewater agencies to complete a seismic risk assessment and mitigation plan as part of periodic updates to facility plans.

• Wastewater agencies should be encouraged to conduct more complete characterizations of the impacts of estimated recovery times for seismic events.

• Encourage the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to identify and coordinate with wastewater agencies on expectations for the levels of service, regulatory compliance, and applicable standards to be used following a major seismic event.

• DEQ should also attempt to:
  • Identify and address potential analytical laboratory capacity limitations.
  • Identify potential regulatory and laboratory strategies.
  • Provide training to utilities on resulting recommendations.
  • Encourage public health and wastewater agencies to coordinate and establish agreements for the use of temporary sanitary services (portable toilets) immediately after a seismic event.
  • ​Encourage public health, water, and wastewater agencies to plan for significant water quality impacts to the Willamette and Columbia rivers downstream from Portland.
• Local governments should adopt the latest version of tsunami hazard maps and analyses in comprehensive plan policies and development code regulations, in advance of formal statewide adoption.

• The Urban Reserve Rules (OAR 660-021) should be revised to make them more useful for recovery planning prior to a tsunami.

• DOGAMI should be funded with up to $20 million to update and enhance the statewide inventory and provide preliminary evaluation of critical facilities.

• As demolition costs for unsafe buildings can be prohibitive to local jurisdictions, “seismic rehabilitation” is defined to include demolishing unsafe (based on construction and/or location) structures: (ORS 455.020, 455.390, 455.395 and 455.400, OAR 123-051-0200).

• The State should establish a research initiative that would provide $1 million annually for research aimed at improving Oregon’s earthquake resilience. The initiative would be administered by DOGAMI and would provide 1:1 matching funds to the State’s public universities for state-, federal- or industry-funded earthquake research.

• Funding OEM at $500,000 to lead a process for the 2015-17 biennium, in partnership with key stakeholders, for developing and disseminating improved educational materials for agencies, businesses, and the public, including: a) Revising and standardizing information provided to the public and businesses to recommend an emergency preparedness goal of at least two weeks; b) Training and education specifically relating to disaster preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation for decision-makers in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors; c) Supporting education, training, and related professional development for emergency managers, consistent with but beyond standard FEMA dissemination. This may include programs offered through institutions of higher education, conferences and other special events, and programs provided by professional associations; d) Establishing an electronic clearinghouse of educational and technical information for emergency responders and planners, technical specialists, workplaces, and the general public.

• Funding the Department of Education at $500,000 for the 2015-17 biennium to lead a process of adopting standardized educational content and associated resources for K-12, applicable to the entire State as well as for specific hazard areas (e.g., coastal communities), and to establish an electronic clearinghouse for curriculum and supporting resources.

• Firefighting agencies, water providers, and emergency management agencies should establish joint standards for use in planning the firefighting response to a large seismic event.

For questions or comments, please contact the State Resilience Office​.
Oregon's Office of Emergency Management encourages people to be prepared to be on their own for a minimum of two weeks. This lessens the strain on emergency responders who need to focus limited resources on injured and other vulnerable populations immediately following a disaster.