More federal funds may be going to earthquake early warning system

MEDFORD, Ore. —  Experts say it’s not if but when the “big one” will hit… and nature won’t wait for you to be ready.

“In the end, it’s the individual who’s in charge of themselves and they have to be prepared,” he said.

The catastrophic Cascadia earthquake, which will leave the ground shaking for up to five minutes and cost an estimated 32 billion in economic damages, is expected to hit Oregon and other western states at any point.

“No 1-5, no 100, bridges, and poorly constructed buildings will come down,” said Prof. Eric Dittmer, Southern Oregon University.

But with new legislation passing in the U.S. House Wednesday, we may be steps closer to improving our preparedness as a state and country.

“Kicking in additional money will accelerate the number of seismometers, which will make the alert much more reliable sooner,” said Cavallaro.

Cavallaro is referring to Oregon’s early earthquake warning system, also known as ShakeAlert, which can notify the public a few seconds to a few minutes before an earthquake hits.

But he says it’s still in its early development stages and is only available to those who are a part of the pilot program.

“Technology just isn’t there yet, the bandwidth isn’t there yet to notify millions of people at once… millions of cell phones,” he said.

Cavallaro says the rupture, which would be the largest natural hazard event in the history of our country isn’t something to take lightly.

“A couple of months of water and food is not excessive,” he said. “We’re at the bottom of the state and sometimes we’re at the bottom of the priority list.”

It’s why he and many others are hopeful the new legislation will make a significant impact.

“It’s better to be prepared and no earthquake than having an earthquake and not being prepared,” said Prof. Dittmer.

“We sort of have a road map… we just need a few more years to work it out. Hopefully, nature will cooperate and Cascadia will wait for us,” said Cavallaro.

The bill now heads to the Senate.

If it passes there, it heads to the President’s desk for signature.

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