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Earthquake FAQs

What is the earthquake risk in my Portland neighborhood?

Portland Maps - earthquake heat map
(Click to go to site)

Portland Maps - City of Portland

This is an interactive site that displays information about Portland neighborhoods. You can pan and scroll to see any neighborhood in the Portland area, or you can enter in an address to see information about that address. The risk of earthquake damage is displayed on a color-coded map, where red indicates high earthquake hazard, orange indicates moderate earthquake hazard, and yellow indicates low earthquake hazard.

For earthquake risk information, enter in an address, scroll down, and click on "Public Safety" to see the earthquake links (Portland Hills and Cascadia faults).

Where can I go in Portland for help after an earthquake?

BEECN site map
(Click to download)

BEECN - Portland Bureau of Emergency Management

Portland maintains Basic Earthquake Emergency Communication Nodes (BEECN) all over the city where people can go for information after a a major earthquake. The BEECN nodes are manned by PBEM volunteers. For more information, go to the PBEM BEECN page.

Our Earthquake Essentials Kit comes with a paper copy. If you don't have one, click the image to download or use the link at the top for more information.

Where can I find interactive earthquake maps for all of Oregon?

Cascadia lifeline program 3D map
(Click to go to site)

Oregon Hazard Explorer - Cascadia Lifelines Program

This excellent OSU interactive map shows different earthquake research data for the state of Oregon, including ground motion, landslide hazard, bridge assessments, liquefaction, and tsunami information.

The different earthquake-related features are displayed on the map in colors via overlay maps, which can be combined. The map shown on the left here shows bridge damage assessments after an earthquake across Oregon.

Click on the orange icons in the top right corner to view options.

GeoHazards viewer -Interactive Oregon earthquake map
(Click to go to site)

Geohazards Viewer - Oregon Dept. of Geology

This interactive map shows different geological hazards across the Pacific Northwest, including earthquake fault lines.

The icons on the top left can be used to select a base map and one or more overlays with information. Try selecting them all (top right of layer widgit) and de-selecting the ones you don't want.

What studies have been done on earthquake risk in the Pacific Northwest?

Oregon Resiliency Plan
(Click to download)

Oregon Resilience Plan - State of Oregon.

The State of Oregon's Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission (OSSPAC) prepared this report in 2013. It's the most comprehensive report on the risk of a major earthquake in Oregon.

Where do gas lines run in my city?

National Pipeline Mapping System
(Click to go to site)

NPMS Public Viewer - National Pipeline Mapping System

This great interactive site will show you where major natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines, LNG plants, and Breakout Tanks throughout any city in the country.

Knowing where these hazards are may help you stay safe after an earthquake, particularly if you have to walk home from somewhere.

Who are the relevant authorities in the Portland area?

Portland Bureau of Emergency Management
(Click to go to site)

PBEM - Portland Bureau of Emergency Management

PBEM is in charge of managing Portland's response to a major disaster. PBEM runs an Emergency Communications Center that will be the shared headquarters and central point of contact for all relevant authorities. PBEM also runs the Neighborhood Emergency Teams (NET), a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program that trains community volunteers as  to help after disasters. Anyone can join, and the training is free.

NETs will play an important role after a major earthquake. Police will be responding to incidents and firefighters will be performing assessment runs to determine damage. NETs will be deployed to help in communities, and will also use radios to communicate assessment information back to PBEM.

Multnomah County Emergency Dept.
(Click to go to site)

MULTCO - Multnomah County Emergency Management Dept.

MULTCO will be responsible for coordinating activities between the other counties in the area, and in particular is responsible for managing shelters after major disasters.

The Emergency Preparedness page of their site has links to other authorities, departments, and websites related to disaster preparedness. It also has information about how to make a play, how to stay informed and/or get involved, tsunamis, landslides, flooding, and caring for animals and livestock.

If you are looking for information about earthquake risk in Portland, this is an excellent place to start.

Cascadia Playbook - Oregon State Earthquake Preparedness study
(Click to download)

Cascadia Playbook - State of Oregon

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management will be coordinating aid with local authorities, and have published an official planned response to a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake that discusses risks and priorities regarding roads, infrastructure, energy, etc.

Oregon Emergency Management response planThe OEM includes detailed information broken down into 9 time periods: 1 hour, 6 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours, 4 days, 7 days, 10 days, and 2 weeks.

It also covers a response phase and a recovery phase, and identifies numerous emergency support functions. It's long, but it's mostly bullet points.

Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization
(Click to go to site)

RDPO - Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization

RDPO is a partnership of government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private-sector stakeholders in the Portland Metropolitan Region collaborating to increase the region’s resilience to disasters.

The mission of the Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization (RDPO) is to build and maintain regional disaster preparedness capabilities in the Portland Metropolitan Region through strategic and coordinated planning, training and exercising, and investment in technology and specialized equipment.

Can Portlanders sign up to be alerted about disasters in the area?

Public Alerts for Portland Community
(Click to sign up)

Public Alerts - publicalerts.org

Public Alerts is an emergency information hub designed to inform people about emergencies occurring locally. Members of the community in Portland and Vancouver can sign up to receive public alerts on their cell phones in regard to local health and safety issues, including disasters and earthquakes.

Information is posted on the site by various authorities, and you can also sign up to receive alerts by text.

Sign up for this!!

Shake Alert - Earthquake alert system
(Click to go to site)

ShakeAlert

ShakeAlert® is an earthquake early warning (EEW) system for the west coast that detects significant earthquakes so quickly that alerts can reach many people before shaking arrives. ShakeAlert is not earthquake prediction, rather a ShakeAlert message indicates that an earthquake has begun and shaking is imminent.

The USGS began the testing of public notification in California in October of 2019 through the Wireless Emergency Alert system (WEA), but it is not yet available in Oregon or Washington. Read more about it here.

Are there earthquake drills I can participate in?

The Great Shake Out earthquake drill
(Click to go to site)

The Great Shake Out

This is a national program, coordinated by state, for anyone to register to participate in a yearly earthquake drill on International Shake-Out Day, always the third Thursday of October. All major authorities and aid organizations participate, and you can too.

Where will I poop if we can't use our toilets?

Emergency Toilet Guidebook
(Click to go Google Docs)

Emergency Toilet Project - Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization

The RDPO has a site with information about how to set up an emergency toilet after a disaster. After an earthquake, sewer lines may be down for many months or even years! It is important that everyone on the city sewer system have a bucket toilet and plenty of liner bags. Human waste will have to be bagged and saved separately from garbage until it can be picked up by local authorities.

Bucket toilets and extra strength liner bags are available from our store.

Where can I learn about infrastructure projects and plans in Oregon?

Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup
(Click to go to site)

CREW - Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup

The Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup has information about regional efforts including early warning systems, planned infrastructural improvements, etc.

How can I get financial assistance after a disaster?

FEMA Disaster Assistance
(Click to go to site)

DisasterAssistance - FEMA

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is the federal agency responsible for administering aid to states and cities after a major disaster such as an earthquake. FEMA runs the DisasterAssistance website, where you can enter in your city, state and/or zip code to determine whether Individual Assistance is available to you.

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