OPB’s What’s my Risk?

Photo Courtesy of US Navy
Photo Courtesy of US Navy

On the anniversary of the last Cascadia earthquake and tsunami 315 years ago, OPB has done an excellent series of stories called “Unprepared: Will We Be Ready for the Megaquake?”   As the articles points out, a large Cascadia earthquake and tsunami can occur anytime, and it reviews how prepared we are and compares it to the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  They also have a nice little app called “What’s My Risk“.  You can put in your address to see where critical buildings are located nearby and what their risk of collapse are.   At the bottom of the page,  you can find out if  your local school has been retrofitted.   The information was available online, but the app shows it in an interactive and friendly way, making this information more transparent.  This is an exciting development.

It would be great if it could be expanded to show the condition of the bridges and major transportation routes, to include more types of buildings (such as hospitals and government buildings), and the amount of time it will take to get  lifeline utilities such as water, waste, electricity, gas, and telecommunications back on line.  For coastal communities there is also an incredible amount of data about the vulnerabilities of communities to tsunamis.  This information was collected from census data shows very detailed information about populations, land use, location of critical and essential facilities, and economic assets.  This data is out there, but again, not easy to find, or to understand.

While the initial impression can be depressing (OPB’s title was apt, we are not prepared) this app gives us tool to make things better.  Take a look at the app.  If you don’t like what you see, talk to your school district and essential services providers.  They will likely say that they don’t have the money and need help.  This doesn’t get them off the hook, but it may mean you should talk to your local elected offices, state legislators as well.

Keep in mind, we don’t have to fix things and solve this problem all at once.  We do need to keep at it though.  The Oregon Resilience Plan figured that setting a goal of 50 years was reasonable.  Chances are we have that amount of time and it spreads the cost out. A tool such as this app would allow us to keep track of how we are doing over time.  If enough of us do keep track, it becomes a way to remind the powers that be, that they too should keep at it.