Letter to Seattle Times

Our renewed fear of a catastrophic mega-earthquake is justified.  Such an event would be catastrophic in our region, with our aging infrastructure of bridges, overpasses and freeways. The structural damage alone could Balkanize the entire Salish Sea region for years to come. 

(Editor’s Note:  Emergency Management officials conclude a massive quake in this area would likely create five “islands” within the Clallam County area.  This means that bridges and other infrastructure would likely be impassable and anyone caught on one of these “islands” must fend for themselves for weeks, months or years until bridges can be rebuilt and slides cleared.)

We need to proactively prepare — beyond emergency kits and phone contact plans for families. What good is an emergency kit when it is buried in the rubble of your home — possibly along with family members? I see little real effort toward preparing before such an event in ways that could lessen the potential for damage and loss of life.

As an alternative, I would like to see government-sponsored, long-term and low-interest loans to property owners for earthquake proofing their homes and businesses. Affordable financing and a concerted push by banks, mortgage and insurance companies to incentivize those loans would mitigate damage to properties and save many lives. It would also spawn jobs and new small businesses to provide retrofitting services.

Emergency management should be focusing proactively on providing easier and cheaper access to structural retrofits: by providing information on effective structural enhancements, certifying the retrofitting companies that provide them and facilitating accessible financing for structural improvements in homes and businesses. It would save lives, property and, ultimately, ease the demand for services that might prove impossible to deliver when the “big one” hits.

Ann Grahn-Morgan, Everett

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