Earthquake Vulnerabilities Recorded at 20 Portland Schools

The school buildings use unreinforced masonry, which is susceptible to collapse during an earthquake.

School district officials in Portland, Oregon are exploring options to renovate at least 20 buildings in the city after a report showed they’re likely to fall apart in the event of an earthquake.

Portland Public Schools will seek funds to partially renovate 28 of its most vulnerable buildings, including improvements to classrooms, gyms and auditoriums, reports Oregon Live.

Ten other school buildings belonging to the David Douglas School District and private schools were also cited as at risk of earthquake damage.

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The report studied the use of unreinforced masonry in city buildings, which could crumble in the event of an earthquake and injure people inside and around the school.

City officials may soon enact a law enforcing retrofitting standards on all district buildings to improve safety. School districts would have until 2026 to comply with the law.

“When these buildings fail, they tend to do so catastrophically,” Carmen Merlo, director of the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, says. “Schools are an often overlooked casualty of earthquakes.”

The report is part of a broader catalogue of buildings in Portland that are at risk of collapsing in the event of an earthquake. Schools are ranked as the city’s second-highest priority behind critical-need buildings such as hospitals and public utility buildings.

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