Created by Gov. Jay Inslee last year, the Resilient Washington Subcabinet laid out a long list of areas where Washington lags other quake-prone states in funding and programs to reduce risk.
To make significant progress on earthquake preparedness, Washington needs support from the Legislature and an office in state government to coordinate and oversee the efforts, members of an expert group told Gov. Jay Inslee Wednesday.
“There’s no shortage of things we need,” Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, head of the Washington Military Department, said during a meeting of the Resilient Washington Subcabinet. “This is a long-term effort, and we need a body or office that really champions resilience in our state.”
Created by Inslee last year, the group laid out a long list of areas where Washington lags other quake-prone states in funding and programs to reduce risk.
• Washington is the only state on the West Coast that hasn’t evaluated the seismic safety of all schools and critical facilities, like hospitals and fire stations.
• California, Oregon and British Columbia have all required and funded upgrades of dangerous school buildings, but Washington hasn’t.
More from the series:
- Overview: Washington's earthquake risks
- A quake worse than the ‘Big One’? Ruined New Zealand city shows danger in Seattle
- 4 key ways Seattle can prepare
- Quake-insurance prices soar in Washington, and companies hold all the power
- Quake insurance in Washington: What you need to know
- Washington state’s plan for megaquake ‘grossly inadequate,’ review finds
- Buildings that kill: The earthquake danger lawmakers have ignored for decades
- Is your child safe? Washington does little to protect older schools from earthquakes
- Tips for parents to find out more
- Guide to earthquake preparedness
- About The Seattle Times’ special report
• In 1986, California took action to require retrofits of old brick buildings, but no such upgrades are required in Washington.
• Washington funds no public-education and outreach programs to help residents prepare for earthquakes and build emergency kits.
• Washington hasn’t devoted any state funds to an earthquake early-warning system being developed on the West Coast.
• Washington is the only state on the West Coast that hasn’t fully mapped coastlines at risk from tsunamis.
Inslee told the group that he’s particularly concerned that citizens understand the need to better prepare themselves for a disaster that could overwhelm both state and federal responders.
“We can see what the people of Puerto Rico are going through now (after Hurricane Maria),” he said. “You understand how important it is to be able to provide clean water and food and medical supplies.”
Inslee also emphasized the need to make the state’s emergency-communication systems more robust, so emergency responders and local governments will be able to talk to each other in the first couple of weeks after a major disaster.
“This is something I really hope to focus on,” he said.
Daugherty called for the formation of a legislative task force to focus on seismic preparedness. “We need the Legislature to step up and help us,” he said.
Inslee said he and his staff will “digest” the subcabinet’s report and offer up a set of recommendations for both short-term and long-term action in the next couple of weeks.
“This is just the beginning of this discussion,” he said. “I’m confident we can make this a safer Washington.”