SEATTLE -- The Alaskan Way Viaduct may be the most visible reminder that Seattle still has a lot to do to protect itself from earthquakes, but ten years after the Nisqually quake shook the region, a new report says we've come a long way.
"The city's been extremely proactive in earthquake preparedness in the past decade," said Barbara Graff with the Seattle Office of Emergency Management.
In a report called "Earthquake Preparedness: Activities Completed and Future Efforts," city departments summarize their work over the past decade, including:
- Department of Planning and Development: More than 2000 homes have made use of its Home Retrofit Program since the program began. The program also trains contractors to do the same work.
- Department of Parks and Recreation: 180 employees have been trained by the Red Cross to be mass shelter workers in emergencies
- Seattle Public Utilities: strengthened five water towers around the city and installed seismically-hardened fire hydrants that tap directly into water reservoirs.
- Seattle Human Services Department: Provided training for home care agencies regarding potential Green River Flooding due to earthquake or levee failure.
Construction and renovation in key city buildings, including City Hall and the Justice Center have replaced former structurally unsound buildings, according to the report.
A voter-backed $167 million levy passed in 2003 continues to pay for upgrades at all of the city's fire stations.
The report was compiled in June 2010, said city officials, but is just now being made available to the public. While it is generally optimistic, it does warn there is no such thing as an "earthquake-proof" building.
"I'd say we are better prepared than we were in 2001 during the Nisqually earthquake," said Graff. "Could we be better prepared? Yes."
Basing data on recent earthquakes in Chile and Mexico City, the report said older 10-to-15 story buildings may be at risk for "major damage."
And the report noted that several of the projects are still underway, such as a $1 million seismic retrofit of Post Alley in the Pike Place Market, or the $780,000 retrofit of the Queen Anne Community Center.
Others have not yet begun, like an unfunded King Station seismic retrofit estimated to cost $6.9 million.
City departments have also held tabletop and mock earthquake drills to prepare city employees, said the report, which also suggested that the Washington state annual April earthquake drill be made mandatory for Seattle city employees.
The report is supposed to be released on Monday, during the anniversary of the Nisqually quake.