Earthquake News

Over two decades since Nisqually earthquake, many remain unprepared for a future seismic event

February 28, 2023, marks the 22nd anniversary of the Nisqually earthquake, which rattled western Washington and caused close to $4 billion in damage. While only one person died of a heart attack, over 400 people were injured, and the earthquake damaged numerous buildings, leaving them at risk of collapse.

Washington state experiences over 1,000 earthquakes annually, with most being small and not noticeable. However, the state has experienced at least 20 damaging earthquakes in the last 125 years, and the risk of a large earthquake happening in the next 50 years is between 40-80% in most populated areas. The Cascadia Subduction Zone, just off the Pacific Northwest coast, can produce a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, similar to the one that devastated Japan in 2011. Thus, it is not a matter of if but when "the big one" will hit Washington.

To protect themselves, families can retrofit their homes to help stabilize them during an earthquake. Before 1980, state building codes did not require houses to be bolted to their foundations. While this does not mean that every house built before 1980 is unsecured, officials with the City of Seattle say that homes that are not properly secured may be at an increased risk of slipping off their foundation during a major earthquake.

Leif Jackson, the owner of Sound Seismic Earthquake Retrofitting in Seattle, estimates that at least 400,000 out of the more than 950,000 homes in King County need retrofitting. Retrofitting is admittedly not cheap, with costs ranging from a few thousand dollars to over $30,000, depending on multiple factors. However, while the upfront cost is steep, it will cost far more to repair damage after a major earthquake.

The City of Seattle's Office of Emergency Management and Department of Planning and Development offers a free class for those who want to retrofit their homes themselves. Furthermore, a recently launched system, the ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning alerts, could provide seconds of warning to protect yourself before an earthquake arrives. The app sends alerts to phones in light to heavy shaking areas for estimated magnitude 4.5 earthquakes and higher.

In conclusion, retrofitting homes to prepare for earthquakes is essential to ensure that families are safe during a major earthquake. The cost may seem high, but it is a small price to pay compared to the cost of repairing the damage after an earthquake. We urge residents in Seattle to take earthquake retrofitting seriously and take steps to secure their homes.

To read the full article and learn more about the importance of earthquake preparedness, please follow the link: https://mynorthwest.com/3844844/22-years-after-nisqually-earthquake-some-still-not-ready-for-the-big-one/

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