Environment

Portland 8th-grader is earthquake prep advocate

Alex Laufenberg used his school project as a chance to empower his community

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- Seismologists have long maintained that the Pacific Northwest is overdue for a massive earthquake along the Cascadia Fault.

So an eighth-grader in Portland is working hard to make sure his neighbors and community members have a plan if "The Big One" ever strikes. 

For his action project at Rachel Carson Environmental School, Alex Laufenberg decided to focus on earthquake preparedness. He believes the Pacific Northwest is "dangerously unprepared" for a massive quake. 

He went above and beyond the assignment's requirements by organizing a community meeting specifically targeting his own neighborhood.

"I didn't really want to try and make an impact on 3,000 people," Alex said. "I wanted to make an impact on people I could personally check in on." 

Alex was inspired to pursue the topic after hearing Steven Eberlein with Tipping Point Resilience speak about being prepared for what comes after a large earthquake. 

Eberlein started mentoring Alex and taught him how to map and organize his community in an online system. 

For example, Alex said his 2 of his neighbors are healthcare workers; one is a doctor and the other is a nurse. Alex said having that kind of information online for residents to see in the event of a catastrophe could be critical if anyone was hurt. 

Alex also wants people to take practical steps, like building emergency kits and strapping large appliances to walls so they don't come crashing down when the ground shakes. 

Even just getting to know the people who live around you could help. 

Alex's mentor said more people should take earthquake preparedness as seriously as his young student does. 

"We need more people like Alex who are normalizing this, who are being the advocate you know, love and trust who are saying 'listen, people, we've got a big event coming,'" said Eberlein. 

Those interested in having an earthquake preparedness presentation at their workplace or in their communities can contact Eberlein through the Tipping Point Resilience website


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