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Commissioner Steve Novick

Official Website for Commissioner Steve Novick

Phone: 503-823-4682

fax: 503-823-4019

1221 SW 4th Ave. Suite 210, Portland, OR 97204

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Portland Mercury: Bolting Down

February 26, 2014 | Portland Mercury-- City Commissioner Steve Novick took a definitive step this month toward tackling an imminent earthquake disaster.

On Thursday, February 20, Novick and US Representative Earl Blumenauer stood outside a Southeast Portland woman's home and announced a $100,000 pilot project that lets homeowners tap federal money to help finance seismic retrofits of their homes.

These retrofits are a critical issue for many homeowners: Houses built before the mid-1970s—roughly 100,000 in Portland, according to city planners—are probably not attached to their foundations. And in a major quake, like the magnitude 9.0 whopper that scientists warn is coming, they are likely to shake right off.

"I was alarmed to learn in the summer of 2012 that one of our biggest vulnerabilities, when we have a big quake, is homes built before 1974 are unlikely to be bolted to their foundations, and are unlikely to survive," said Novick, who is in charge of the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM).

As the Mercury first reported in October, Novick has been playing with the idea of acquiring federal dollars to solve the unbolted-home problem since at least the fall ["Coding for Quakes," News, Oct 16, 2013]. He found an ally in Blumenauer, who acquired funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"If we do our jobs right, we can prevent injuries, deaths, and disruptions to business," Blumenauer said at the program's launch. "This is an opportunity to show that prevention works."

The pilot project, run by the nonprofit Clean Energy Works Oregon, will cover about 75 percent of the price of the retrofits. Bolting a house to its foundation can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $3,500, or more, if work to a home's foundation is READ FULL ARTICLE