Trump budget will nix earthquake funding in PNW


EUGENE, Ore. (KOIN) — A life-saving system warning Oregonians and Washingtonians when the big one hits will be nixed if President Donald Trump’s budget is passed by Congress.

Experts almost universally agree the Pacific Northwest is overdue for a major earthquake, which is why experts at the University of Oregon are working on a system to give people enough warning to take cover when it does.

When an earthquake hits, seconds really do matter.

Leland O’Driscoll, seismic network director at U of O, said, “We lie in a very hazardous region for earthquake activity.”

Japan is another dangerous region for earthquakes, however, they already have a system in place to warn all residents on their phones, TVs and radios if an earthquake hits. Their system tells residents where the earthquake hits and how strong it is.

The Japanese system also gives everyone a warning, breaking down in seconds, how long it will take for the earthquake to reach them.

Oregon, Washington and California don’t have that type of system yet. All 3 states have outdated seismometers.

Steven Sobieszczyk, an earth scientist at U.S. Geological Survey, told KOIN 6 News we have a Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, but it’s traditional monitoring and recording, not early warning.

“We really need sensors that are modern enough, that can send the data right away,” O’Driscoll said.

So far, 90 of these modern seismometers have been installed throughout Oregon, but experts said the state needs hundreds more for accuracy.

However, under Trump’s budget, this program would lose its funding.

Picture of a seismometer in Eugene as seen on June 23, 2017. (Courtesy of Dusty Whitaker)

O’Driscoll said, “The current presidential administration doesn’t really appreciate the savings that can be had — mitigating damage due to early warning.”

If the budget is passed, experts said they’re going to have to think of different ways to make up for the loss, if they can.

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