Novick retrofits Portland home for earthquakes

Novick retrofits Portland home for earthquakes

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by KGW environmental reporter Keely Chalmers

Bio | Email | Follow: @KeelyChalmers

kgw.com

Posted on August 23, 2013 at 5:31 AM

Updated Friday, Aug 23 at 9:17 AM

PORTLAND -- For years, experts have been telling us to retrofit our homes to protect against earthquake damage.

They say the "Big One" could hit the Pacific Northwest at any time. Now a Portland leader is leading by example.

Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick invited KGW to his Southwest Portland home to show how he is seismically retrofitting it by bolting its frame to the foundation.

Novick says there are about 150,000 single-family homes in Portland, and about 70 percent of those were built before there was a requirement to bolt houses to their foundations.

Geologists believe a magnitude-9 earthquake could strike off the Oregon coast at any time. The destructive shaking would be felt all the way into the Willamette Valley.

Yumei Wang, a geotechnical engineer with the Oregon Department of Geology, says homes built before 1993 may be at risk of sliding off their foundations and partially collapsing.

Those structures built out of brick could totally collapse.

“It wasn't until mid 90s that the building code was upgraded so that our homes and places where we work were actually built safely,” Wang said.

Commissioner Novick says the more homes saved in a quake, the better for the city.

“Whether the city survives and recovers will depend in large part on whether people have houses to come home to,” he said.

Novick says it's costing him about $4,000 to retrofit his home.

Homeowners may be able to get a low interest loan to cover the costs of seismically retrofitting their home through the Clean Energy Works Program.

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