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April 1, 2010

April Earthquake Awareness Month -- Schools Focus on Natural Disaster Preparations

Statement by State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo regarding earthquake awareness:

SALEM - "Given the recent catastrophes in Haiti and Chile, it is well worth noting that April is Earthquake and Tsunami Awareness Month. The safety of our students and staff is paramount and public schools in Oregon are doing everything they can to prepare our people and buildings in the event of a natural disaster.

"We all know that the Northwest is one of the most seismically active regions in the world. So all our public schools are required, at least twice a year, to instruct and drill students on emergency procedures such as "Drop, Cover, Hold." The key to preparedness is practice, so that kids can respond quickly and without panicking when it really counts. In some of our coastal communities, schools also practice tsunami evacuation drills.

"If you're at a school that has yet to conduct one of their earthquake drills, April is a great time to get it done. Click here for information regarding instruction and drills.

"There is still much work to do to make sure our school buildings are safe in the event of an earthquake. The average Oregon school is 46 years old, and while seismic upgrades have been completed over the years, many buildings are not as safe as they need to be. In fact, a 2007 report from the Department of Oregon Geology and Mineral Industries found that there are 274 public schools across our state considered to be at highest risk in the event of an earthquake.

"Earlier this year, Oregon took a step in the right direction by distributing $7.5 million in Seismic Rehabilitation Grants to a number of education and emergency services buildings, including 12 public school buildings from Beaverton to Lakeview. Another $7.5 million will be granted in the second round of applications.

"We continue to work toward a long-term plan to ensure that our school buildings are made safer. In the meantime, other schools deemed at risk can apply for future grants through the Oregon Emergency Management Seismic Rehabilitation Grant Program."

RESOURCES:

To access more information and resources, please visit the Oregon Department of Education's "Quake-Safe Schools" page at www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=2061.

For information about OEM's grant program, visit www.oregon.gov/OMD/OEM/plans_train/SRGP.shtml.


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Susan Castillo, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Morgan Allen, Interim Communications Director, Telephone (503) 947-5920
http://www.ode.state.or.us


Oregon Department of Education News Releases contain information that was originally released to the press as an official release.  Refer to each News Release for the details.

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