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Plenty of reasons to be earthquake-ready on Capitol Hill

Broadway’s All Pilgrims underwent a seismic upgrade in 2013 (Image: CHS)

Thursday brings another edition of the annual Great Washington Shakeout:

Millions of people worldwide will practice how to
Drop, Cover, and Hold On at 10:19 a.m. on October 19* during Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills!

Washingtonians can join them today by registering for the 2017 Great Washington ShakeOut. Participating is a great way for your family or organization to be prepared to survive and recover quickly from big earthquakes– wherever you live, work, or travel. Learn tips on how to get 2 Weeks Ready and craft your own emergency kits here. ShakeOut is also a major activity of America’s PrepareAthon!

Unfortunately when it comes to the earthquake preparedness of Capitol Hill’s community resources and buildings, not much has changed since last year’s Shakeout. Or since the June 2016 “largest ever” Seattle “Cascadia Rising” drill. Or the February 2016 15th anniversary of the destructive Nisqualy quake.

In recent years, Seattle officials have shifted advice for city dwellers for being prepared for the next big quake from having enough supplies for three days to “a more realistic” seven to ten days. Kits should include one gallon of water per person per day, food, a light source, and a first aid kit. Go shopping.

Since 2001’s Nisqually quake, many buildings have been reinforced like the Piston and Ring preservation-friendly development on 12th Ave. Here is a look at how Capitol Hill’s greatest old buildings stand up, with elegance, to earthquakes. Meanwhile, a 2012 survey effort by the city showed Capitol Hill is home to one of the largest clusters of unreinforced masonry buildings in the city. Earlier this month, some five years later, the draft plans for which buildings need to be retrofitted first — and how to help pay for that — are finally moving forward. That 2012 list expanded along the way. Meanwhile, there is growing evidence that concrete buildings engineered using outdated methods were some of the most vulnerable structures during Mexico City’s big quake in September. “Flat slab” construction is only restricted in parts of the United States. Single family homes on the Hill could also use some work — many haven’t been secured to their foundations.

While you’re packing your emergency kit, here is the good news. Some responsible building owners have already begun voluntarily retrofitting their properties and some important buildings like fire stationsschool structures and museums (and water towers!) have been part of big projects or are planned for changes.

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