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Gov. Inslee’s earthquake subcabinet says it didn’t have enough resources

Gov. Jay Inslee. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A subcabinet put together by Governor Jay Inslee to come up with recommendations on how the state can prepare for a catastrophic earthquake says it wasn’t given enough resources.

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KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott reports that in a recently released report, the Resilient Washington Subcabinet says it was constrained by a short time window, zero funding, and no additional staff.

It also says the governor told them to look for quick, cheap options, rather than long-term expensive recommendations. For instance, instead of identifying schools that are at risk of collapsing and budgeting money to fix them, the report favors mandatory earthquake drills in schools, which are currently optional, KIRO 7 reports.

KING reports that only five of the counties in Washington state have examined the risk of earthquakes to schools.

The report also recommends negotiating advance contracts with fuel providers, training engineers to give quick assessments to damaged buildings, and evaluating hospital preparedness.

The subcabinet says, “Significant work has already occurred to increase Washington’s resilience to withstand earthquakes and tsunamis, yet much work remains to further this effort.”

According to the subcabinet, Washington is well behind Oregon and California when it comes to seismic evaluations of schools and other important buildings, such as hospitals. The state has failed to fully outline the coastlines that would be impacted by a tsunami. Unlike California, Washington state has also failed to require vulnerable buildings be retrofitted and hasn’t helped fund improvements to schools.

Inslee said the meeting with the subcabinet on Wednesday was “just the beginning.” He plans to release recommendations for next steps within a few weeks.

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