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Fires, floods and faults: What hazards lurk where you ride?

Posted by on May 24th, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Detail of Hazard Map for downtown and the eastside.
Blue dots are unreinforced masonry structures,
yellow diamonds are HAZMAT locations,
red line is a major fault.

The Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) has released a series of maps showing where natural hazards exist in each neighborhood throughout the city. In the interest of being prepared if and when disaster strikes (having a cargo bike all ready to go will only get you so far), I thought it’d be fun to see how these known hazards line up with popular bike routes.

Here’s more about the maps from PBEM:

“The maps identify natural hazards throughout the city. They offer a neighborhood coalition by neighborhood coalition account of known earthquake faults, flood plains and other dangers, including hazardous material sites, steep slopes and forested areas at risk of fire. The maps also show community resources – such as evacuation routes and key transportation corridors used during emergencies, hospitals, county clinics, schools, fire stations and police facilities – within each neighborhood coalition area.”

I had no idea about the East Bank Fault that stretches from inner southeast all the way north. And wow, all those unreinforced masonry structures downtown. When the big one hits, I hope I’m working from home. Speaking of which, I live very close to the “Primary Evacuation Route” of I-5; but I have to say I can’t imagine that working out too well. I mean, I-5 can’t even handle rush-hour traffic on a normal weekday, so I don’t exactly see myself jumping in the mini-van and making a quick getaway when the shaking stops. Another thing that stood out for me are all the HAZMAT locations scattered around the city. Eeek.

Download full size here.

How about you? Are the places you ride going to be underwater, up in flames, oozing toxic chemicals, or buried in rubble when disaster strikes?

And if you’re into preparedness and cargo bikes, put the Disaster Relief Trials on your calendar for June 17th!

You can download the full citywide map, or a map specific to your neighborhood coalition from the Hazard Maps page on PBEM’s website

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Rick
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Rick

So the East Bank fault runs right by the rear left corner of Legacy Manuel Hospital? Lovely.

9watts
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9watts

I like how these are referred to as ‘natural hazards.’ I suppose that is meant ironically.

oskarbaanks
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oskarbaanks

STOP! YOU ARE SCARING ME!

BURR
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BURR

The airport seems safe enough….

I wonder how the Port of Portland got it excluded from the floodplain / liquefiable soils / mod-high ground acceleration classifications? It’s built on the same reclaimed swamp land as the area east of I-205 and west of NE 33rd, and all of these hazards exist there….

dwainedibbly
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dwainedibbly

Anybody know how to identify which blue dots are which buildings? I couldn’t find a way to decode that. I live downtown and I’d really like to know where the piles of bricks are going to be.

Richard Allan
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Richard Allan

Other than an earthquake fault within a block of my house, everything looks just peachy.

Mindful Cyclist
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Mindful Cyclist

Oh, good! Looks like my place is just outside of anything serious.

CaptainKarma
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CaptainKarma

Let’s not forget the mini-nuclear pile at Reed College I keep hearing about.

K'Tesh
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K'Tesh

The only thing that I can see as a “Good” thing in all this, is that presuming we, people who ride bikes, survive the event, will be the only ones moving at speeds better than 5mph back to our homes/loved ones.

Oh, and don’t forget this people, a Disaster Preparedness Kit is a lot easier to build before you need it.

Josh G
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Josh G

I’ve read a bit about the 1700 quake, but never heard about the Columbia damning up at the “Bridge of the Gods” Anyone have a link?

that map reminds me of the artwork for the MIA record
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_NGeOXNeQU3k/TS9Zfs7mf-I/AAAAAAAAANU/SOPENNGvuE0/s1600/M.I.A.+-+Kala.jpg

Tourbiker
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Tourbiker

Far more likely to get knocked off your bike AFTER such an emergency.
Bikes, (Especially bikes that can navigate the rubble), will instantly become invaluable.

Andyc
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Andyc

Okay, well. I’m now keeping my bike helmet on ALWAYS.

Friends of mine live in Linnton, and they say the whole hill is supposed to slide in to the river. Good times!

NW Biker
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NW Biker

Am I the only one who thinks it’s pointless to worry about stuff we can’t do anything about? Or am I just blase because I’ve been through a major earthquake (Alaska, 1964, 9.2)?

GlowBoy
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GlowBoy

I’m just hoping the new Caruthers Bridge gets finished before the Big One hits, so I can actually get home if it happens while I’m at work.

By the way, the Earthquake Country Alliance in SoCal has put together a fantastic handbook for dealing with quake hazards. The 4 things they recommend doing BEFORE a quake hits:
1. Identify and fix potential hazards in your home.
2. Create a disaster plan.
3. Prepare disaster supplies kits.
4. Identify and begin to fix your building’s potential weaknesses.

A couple of excerpts from task #1: “Several people died and thousands were injured in the Northridge earthquake because of unsecured building contents such as toppling bookcases. Many billions of dollars were lost due to this type of damage” … “You should secure anything 1) heavy enough to hurt you if it falls on you, or 2) fragile and/or expensive enough to be a significant loss if it falls.”

In other words, the biggest danger is not your building but the stuff IN it and lack of preparedness. Reinforcing your building can be very expensive, while the basics don’t have to be: install cabinet locks (the babyproofing kind are fine) and bolt/strap stuff down; figure out your plan; and have emergency supplies at the ready.

Dude
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Dude

Reading in that last link I posted there is a section where they talk about preparedness, In 1962 they had the last atmosheric nuclear blast, testing EMP they found even back then it damaged car ignition systems, before computers were in cars. You can protect sensitive components in a faraday cage