Medford schools to become earthquake resilient

 MEDFORD, Ore. — With the recent earthquakes along the West Coast and concerns about the Cascadia Subduction Zone, preparedness is a focus of many organizations in the Rogue Valley.

In an effort to be more prepared for a disaster, local schools like Hoover Elementary are getting a seismic upgrade. It’s meant to ensure that students and staff can get out safely during an emergency and get to help.

The Hoover Elementary project is one of several the Medford School District is tackling thanks to a $6 million state grant.

“It does really increase the strength and safety of the school,” said 549C Facilities Manager Ron Havinear. “We don’t know what direction it’s gonna come from, how big it’s going to be,” Havinear said the focus is on the infrastructure of the school.

“It’s about strengthening connections between the wall and the roof, and the wall and the floor,” Havinear said.

While all rooms at Hoover are being upgraded to get people out safely in the event of an earthquake, rooms like the cafeteria and gym have new, giant steel beams to make it strong enough to be used as a community resource in the event of an emergency.

“There have been a lot of earthquake activities across our country,” said Medford Emergency Manager Melissa Cano, “so it makes people a little bit more heightened when it comes to awareness and earthquakes.”

Cano said there are small actions anyone can take at home to prepare for a seismic event. “Seeing if there’s anything like a large bookcase that could topple over in an earthquake, make sure that it has some kind of hooks or facets on the back so it doesn’t topple over.” The small changes are just one of the things residents can do to be prepared.

“We’re just trying to get at it a little bit at a time,” Havinear said, “so that when the time comes, we’re prepared to keep our students and staff safe and prepare to be a community resource.”

Crews said the upgrades will be completed by the time kids head back to school this fall.

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