Albany Central Elementary School Retrofit

Courtesy OEM

Oregon voter’s showed their concern about making children safe in their schools by approving $500 millions of bonding for seismic upgrades of schools a few years back.  The Legislature has been slow to allocate funding for the project, but some projects are being funded.  Recently, one such project was completed for the Central Elementary School in Albany, Oregon.  A masonry building almost a hundred years old, it is a well loved school with 160 students from kindergarten to fifth grade.  The $1.5 million dollar grant from Seismic Rehabilitation Grant Program (SRGP) helped tie the roof and floors to the masonry walls.  Selective walls were made into shear walls to resist the earthquake and new stairs were built to evacuate from the school.  The building is considered an historic building and the work was approved by the State Historic Preservation Office.

To help publicize the SRGP program, Oregon Emergency Management worked with the school district and other partners to hold an event, recognizing the school district and community for their efforts, and turned it into a learning experience for students and the community. OPB did a very nice piece, It’s a big deal, and you can find a nice video of the event done by OEM on Youtube as well. 8680619277_0a43b2db97

We are off to slow start, protecting 8,000 students out of over 300,000 that are at risk, but this is a great example for other school districts and communities to emulate.  If you would like to pick up the pace, let you legislator know that you support the program and think it is a good idea to increase the funding.

I am currently serving on the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission (OSSPAC) and attended the event representing the commission.  I sat next to Chris Goldfinger, a scientist from OSU, who has studied the Cascadia fault extensively, who was quite the hit with the kids.  I also learn something new every time I talk with him. One interesting tidbit is that there are seismometer apps that you can download for your smart phones. They take advantage of the technology that lets you flip the screens on the phone.  Not sure I would remember to open it up to check the readings during an earthquake but he is looking using them for teaching purposes.

Another tidbit is that t8684006142_9f48ab4378he San Andreas fault ruptures are tied to Cascadia events and that the 1904 San Francisco earthquake was an anomaly since it happened by itself.  The open question is whether they happen one after another or in some period of time (weeks, months, years) afterwards.  Every time I think I have a handle on how big this thing could be, they go discover something else.