Oregon Tsunami Damage

Cities on the Pacific Ocean are vulnerable to Tsunami.

Tsunami damage to Oregon following the terrible March 11 9.0 earthquake in Japan was relatively light although Governor Kitzhaber is seeking disaster-area status for some coastal areas.  Damage in California was greater, and there was one known fatality.

Crescent City, just south of the Oregon border, was particularly hard hit—this area is unfortunately vulnerable to tsunamis and was devastated after the 1964 Alaskan earthquake.

Oregon’s major populations centers, namely: Portland, Salem, Corvallis and Eugene are all immune to tsunamis because the Willamette Valley is separated from the coast by tall mountains.  However, coastal communities like Brookings, CoosBay, Florence, Newport, Tillamook, CanonBeach and Astoria are vulnerable.  Fortunately, they have evacuation plans and procedures. 

Since the Japanese earthquake occurred thousands of miles away across the Pacific Ocean, there was a warning period of hours, and evacuations in Oregonwent smoothly.  The evacuations were prudent, but ultimately proved not needed to prevent the loss of life.  Better, of course, to be safe than sorry—the loss of life in Japan is over 13,000 people at the time of this writing, and no-doubt will climb.

Many properties around Lane County are in flood zones and may require flood insurance.  Typically, if you’re in the 100-year flood zone, your mortgage lender will require flood insurance.  Most homeowners’ casualty policies do not insure against floods or earthquakes without special riders.  You are only insured for what your policy says—not what you think you’re insured against.  It doesn’t hurt to ask your insurance agent for what perils you’re actually covered.

Eugene Produces Local Electricity

Locally produced electricity for 13,000 homes will soon start to flow through Eugene’s power lines.  Seneca Jones has completed construction of its $45 million cogeneration plant.  Some two years in the making, before long, the plant will be feeding our power grid.  The cogeneration plant will use woody biomass—a renewable resource—produced from the mill and forests.

The concept isn’t entirely new however.  The old Weyerhauser mill in Springfield has a power generation plant producing over 2 ½ times Seneca’s 18.8 megawatts.  And, old timers will remember that EWEB used to burn hog-fuel (a very coarse saw dust) at its facility on the banks of the Willamette River.

Eugene is known for being green and environmentally friendly.  We also benefit from inexpensive electricity—keeping our cost of living down.  It’s an interesting world in which brush from the woods can be powering our cars.

Cogeneration feeding local power.

Oregon Research Institute: The Fight Continues

Opponents of ORI’s proposed $17 million, 80,000-square-foot building are still trying to stop its construction.

I’m the first to admit that I sometimes miss the point—and this might be one of those times.  However, it seems like having an internationally recognized institution with nice facilities would bring Eugene the kind of jobs that everyone likes—no pollution and minimal impact.

The banks of the Willamette: Contentious real estate.

Redevelopment in Eugene’s Downtown

Work has now started that will fill one of Eugene’s notorious downtown holes.  Lane Community College has begun construction on a new downtown facility—costing $53 million before completion late next year.

Hopefully this will be but a start towards a more vibrant downtown.  We’re not likely to get back to what we once were—in times gone by when downtown was a hub of all activities, from shopping and entertainment to business. 

Still, LCC’s project is a good start.

Looking into big holes, the Craigs enjoy one of their hobbies.

The Importance of Buying Local

Buying local is not a new concept for Eugene and Springfield residents.  But—it’s not always so easy.  On a recent ABC news story, they experimented by eliminating all non-U.S. produced items from a typical house.  Hardly anything was left.

However, they were able to replace the items with domestically produced products.  What’s the lesson?  It is said that if each of us spent a mere $3.33 per year on American-made products 10,000 jobs would be created.

Of course, when you need services such as a realtor, choosing local is an easier option.

How many local jobs are supplied by Coca-Cola?

Earthquakes

The destruction from the recent earthquake in Japan and in Christchurch, New Zealand is a reminder of how vulnerable we all can be.  All construction and engineering is a balance between risk management and economics.  It’s possible to build a structure that will essentially never fall down.  However, that would be very expensive—and affording the building is the real key.
So how safe are structures in Eugene and Springfield?  At least one company thought they weren’t safe enough—Symantec is spending millions of dollars to upgrade its Springfield facilities.

The possibility of an earthquake in Lane County is there—we live in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which is known to be seismically active.  So what can you do?  Local building codes have continued to become more stringent and therefore more earthquake resistant so new structures will fare better if an earthquake does happen.  Plus, earthquake insurance is available.

What do most of us do?  Ignore the risk.

 

Will building codes keep earthquake aftermath in Lane County from looking like this?

Significant Source of Lane County Employment Slowly Recovering

The logging and wood products industries are recovering, but slowly.  Both are significant sources of employment in Lane County.  Additionally, the housing market is the chief source of demand for wood products.  Construction of more single-family houses is what’s needed, but building of such homes is at low levels around Eugene Springfield—and nationwide.

Before more new home building can start up, the inventory of existing homes for sale needs to decrease.  In the meantime, it’s a great time to buy.