Oregon’s Geology: Scientists Warn of Hazards, But Do Lawmakers & Agencies Respo

Oct 13, 2014

City Club of Eugene - Oregon’s Geology: Scientists Warn of Hazards, But Do Lawmakers & Agencies Respond?

Meeting date: October 10, 2014

KLCC air date: October 13, 2014

Natural disasters are often followed by a period of public reflection: Did anyone know something like this could happen? Had we taken precautions to prevent and minimize the damage from the earthquake, hurricane, flood or other event that just turned life upside down?

As Oregonians facing the certainty of a great geological event and all its dangers, should we be patting ourselves on the back for what we have accomplished or be chastised for our shortcomings?

Many recommendations have not yet been fulfilled. Some schools will collapse in an earthquake. Few communities have an emergency response capability that can fully meet the need. Despite all that has been done, a natural disaster could severely disrupt medical care. Water, power, and transportation lifelines will be in doubt.

Vicki McConnell, PhD, is Oregon’s State Geologist and directs the Department of Geology and Minerals (DOGAMI). Her agency focuses on making sure Oregonians understand the geological risks we face. DOGAMI has developed public information about tsunami inundation for the Oregon coast, local soil characteristics that determine how much damage might be expected, and other more specialized scientific data about geohazards. McConnell is frequently is called on to communicate those risks to legislators and other officials and suggest possible steps to mitigate the danger.

Deborah Boone of Cannon Beach has been House Representative for District 32 since 2004.  She is Vice Chair of the House Energy and Environment Committee and has served several terms as legislative representative on the Oregon State Seismic Policy Advisory Committee (OSSPAC). Representative Boone has a keen interest in the safety of coastal residents and in 2011 sponsored HR3, which led to the development of the Oregon Resilience Plan.