Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's Leadership on Disaster Resilience

When have you seen a governor testify in support of disaster resilience?

by Eric Holdeman / February 4, 2020

Oregon, like other Pacific Northwest coastal states, has significant seismic risks — the Cascadia earthquake fault being one of them.

About 10 years ago, the state developed an Oregon Disaster Resilience Plan. Over the years, elements of the plan have become priorities, like providing matching funds for the seismic mitigation of schools. Now in 2020, Gov. Kate Brown has taken the leadership position of proposing legislation, Senate Bill 1537

The governor testified before the Senate Committee On General Government and Emergency Preparedness speaking to the needs identified in the bill language. 

Gov. Brown Testimony And, there are others who follow her.

The bill has a number of elements in it. I will highlight only a few of them:

Providing for Additional Seismic Stations: These instruments are needed to provide a wider geographic coverage of the state and will allow the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system to function more accurately, with the potential to save lives. Some funding comes from the federal government, but it is not enough to have a robust warning system. 
 
Two-Week Disaster Preparedness: The state of Oregon is only as prepared for disasters as the level of readiness of its people to be on their own for two weeks, post-disaster. The Cascadia Rising 2016 Earthquake Exercise highlighted how long it will take before meaningful assistance begins to arrive in Oregon from outside resources. The national standard is woefully short for disasters like the Cascadia region earthquake. Residents of Oregon need to understand that government will not be able to support them in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. The effort to get 250,000 residents’ disaster-ready is a very ambitious goal. The work that this bill will enable is understanding how to message disaster preparedness and also measure the effectiveness of that messaging. 
 
All of the proposed elements of the bill, that also includes updating the resilience plan, staging areas for emergency response and the assessment of dam safety are appropriate and will provide meaningful benefit. 
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