Today, Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Clean Energy Works (CEW) CEO Derek Smith and I announced a new pilot project that will give a group of Portland homeowners the opportunity to take steps to enable their homes to survive an earthquake.
The pilot project is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which allocated sufficient funds through the Oregon Office of Emergency Management and the City of Portland’s Bureau of Emergency Management to assist with seismic upgrades for approximately 30 homes. A “seismic upgrade” mostly means “bolting your home to its foundation.” Older homes may be vulnerable to structural failure if they’re bolted to their foundations. In fact, severe ground shaking during an earthquake may cause these homes to collapse entirely. Fortunately, in some cases, low-cost improvements can greatly improve the stability and integrity of these homes.
Why is this so important? Well,when the earthquake comes, for the city to survive, we will need Portlanders who are prepared to ride out the disaster and stay here. People who lose their homes are much less likely to stay. An investment in seismic strengthening of houses is a critical investment in the future of Portland. I very much appreciate the fact that Congressman Blumenauer, and the State, and FEMA all understand that point.
Here’s the deal: 30 Portland homeowners in the pilot project will receive funds to cover approximately 75 percent of the cost of the seismic upgrades. These pilot houses came from a list of people who have already participated in CEW’s energy upgrade program. We hope this pilot is a first step toward Portlanders making a habit of including seismic upgrade services as part of overall home upgrades provided through Clean Energy Works in the future. There may be as many as 100,000 homes in Portland that are not bolted down.
For the eligible pilot homes, Clean Energy Works will oversee the upgrades, working closely with the City and CEW-certified contract. You can learn more about the pilot project at: http://cleanenergyworksoregon.org/x/seismic-upgrade-pilot-project/