Report: Nearly 4,500 buildings statewide are at risk during an earthquake


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    A report presented to lawmakers this week found nearly 4,500 buildings statewide are not earthquake resilient.

    “We have identified that there is a problem now,” said Brian Terbush, earthquake and volcano coordinator at the Washington Emergency Management Division.

    Of the 15,200 buildings studied, 1,176 were confirmed as being unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings, and 3,317 were identified as suspected unreinforced masonry buildings, according to the Department of Commerce and Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation.

    Of the 4,493 identified or suspected URM buildings:

    219 are schools

    395 are publicly owned

    170 are emergency facilities

    You can access the public database highlighting these buildings here.

    Of those at risk, more than 1200 were found in King County, 505 in Pierce and Yakima counties, and 343 in Spokane County.

    The findings were part of a $200,000 grant, mandated by the state legislature.

    Washington’s URM buildings suffered extensive damage during earthquakes in 1945, 1969 and 2001, according to the report, published to lawmakers on Wednesday.

    Terbush said there is an 84 percent chance a major earthquake hits the state in the next fifty years.

    “Most of the people that die in earthquakes around the world are from things falling on them. And these unreinforced masonry buildings are a huge hazard,” said Terbush, inside the state emergency operation center on Sunday.

    Terbush said these findings could help coordinate efforts to find out what is the best way to retrofit these at risk buildings.'

    Editor's Note: This story's attached video and original photo of Garfield High School has been removed. The published study did not confirm or suspect Garfield High school of being an unreinforced masonry building. According to Seattle Public Schools, Garfield was retrofitted in 2006. The online database lists the address of Nova High School as an unreinforced masonry building. The school district said the Horace Mann building houses NOVA High School Program. A spokesperson said the Horace Mann building was seismically retrofitted in 2015. All SPS schools and buildings are seismically safe and up-to-date, according to a spokesperson.

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