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What to Expect in Lake Oswego


The city has a limited number of pieces of heavy equipment which can be used to clear roads, and at this point most of them reside at the Maintenance Center on Jean Road and Pilkington. There is now a backhoe on the east end of the South Shore landslide area.  They’ll be out clearing as soon as humanly possible.  They have 31 employees.  Most of the rest of them live in the Canby area.

As roads are cleared they expect to accumulate 66 acres of debris.  A plan for management of the debris has just now been completed and they have designated four sites around town to deposit it: Luscher Farm, George Rogers Park, East Waluga Park and Westlake Park. Also new is the completion of a study of the condition of our bridges (we have 9), which tells us what work needs to be done to stabilize them.  Police and firefighters are trained to do spot inspections of bridges, and their vehicle computers are loaded with a program that will tell them what to look for in every bridge in the city, county and state.  The assessments have to be redone after every aftershock.


medical and fire
Medical and Fire

There are 13 fire fighters who are also your EMT's on call at any point in time in Lake Oswego.  There are 35,000 residents of Lake Oswego.  Do the math.  You need to be self-sufficient after a major disaster.


Schools are now being considered as critical facilities because they are located in all quadrants of a city and have large open spaces where helicopters could land.  This makes them good spaces to use for emergency shelters or from which to dispense supplies or services. The LO School Board will send to the voters next May the first of three planned bonds which, over the course of 18 years, will replace 5 of their 10 schools with buildings built to Immediate Occupancy.  (The code requires a lesser standard, called Life Safety, which means the building won‘t collapse, so it can be safely evacuated, but is expected to be badly enough damaged that it can’t be reoccupied until repairs are made or the building is replaced.) The remaining 5 schools will be retrofitted to the Life Safety standard, but each will have their gym retrofitted to Immediate Occupancy. This means that there will be at least a gym in each section of town that could be used as an emergency shelter, or as an emergency center from which to distribute supplies and services.  We are only the second school district in the state –Beaverton is the first—to shoot for that much Immediate Occupancy coverage.  Emergency use will be short term.  But the real value of this is that we can expect to reopen those new schools as soon as critical services are restored, rather than wait months or years to repair or replace them.  Even if half our schools have to wait for that, we could conceivably run half days at the open schools. And if the economics of solar technology continues to improve, those new buildings could conceivably be able to run on solar alone, so there would be a place in each part of town with electricity, even when the grid is down.  That could be life saving. So if the voters approve this bond and the subsequent two, LO will be far, far ahead of other towns in terms of emergency centers and reopening of school.

April 2019 UPDATE: The bond passed and ground was just broken on the new Lakeridge Junior High, the first school to be entirely replaced. The entire building will be built to Immediate Occupancy and will be Net Zero Ready. Two bids for third party financing of solar panels are expected soon, and the design team is looking at the addition of battery storage. With the addition of solar panels and storage, the building would be able to generate its own power when the electrical grid is down. This building sets the standard for all the other replacement schools.


Our new Water Treatment Plant is now on‐line and is built to withstand a major earthquake, as are the main lines feeding off of it. We are the only municipality that has that at this point.  Others will follow as they rebuild their aging water systems.  Here’s how they stabilized the plant to survive a 9.0: •The first 25 feet is good soil •The next 25 feet is soil that is expected to liquefy. •The third 25 feet is stable soil. •They sunk pilings 60 feet down to stabilize the plant. The reason the plant is on unstable soil is that water plants tend to be close to their source of water, and river banks frequently have unstable soil.  The banks of the Willamette consist of layers of sand and gravel deposited over many iterations of the Missoula Floods during the last ice age, which necessitates digging down to an appropriate level of sediment. Since the treatment plant as well as all the main lines leading off of it are built to with withstand the   earthquake, the backbone of our system should survive intact. The weak spots in this system are the older pipes carrying water from those main lines into our neighborhoods, some of which are sure to break.  The type of pipe has changed over the years. Since 1990 they’ve been using PVC, and most recently started using HDPE which is considered the best seismically.  Our older pipes need to be replaced, and a lot of them already have been. When Joel Komarek was Public Works director 8 years ago, before he took over management of the Lake Oswego‐Tigard Water Project, he was very aggressive in water pipe replacement, and had all of our asbestos pipe taken out.  They have a guestimate of $40M in pipe replacements, but Joel will start drafting a Water Master Plan as he wraps up the LOT project, so planning for that project is in the works. Bottom line for citizens: you need to have a supply of water at your home to last about thirty days.   The city has a portable filtration truck that can be moved around to filter water from the lake or river, but it’s by no means enough for the whole town.  There is the possibility of being able to tap the city’s reservoirs, but we only have one reservoir with the appropriate valve and they’re very expensive.  That will be addressed in the Water Department’s 20 year plan which they’ll be working on next year (2017).


The phone grid will go down, including cell and emergency communications, because the relay towers will be damaged.  Currently, emergency communications will be by ham radio.  The city has a cadre of ham radio operators ready to make their way to the nearest fire station as soon as they have secured their own homes.  They will set up their equipment, in a tent if necessary, and relay messages back and forth to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) which will be at the main fire station until the new Police/LOCOM building is finished in a couple of years.  Once they have emergency procedures established, they will be able to relay personal messages to your contacts.

However, the voters in Clackamas County recently approved a new hardened emergency communications system, which should be up in 2021. It involves new earthquake hardened towers, electronic upgrades, back‐up power supplies and is expected to be operational even when cell service is not. The improvements are county wide and are connected to Washington County’s systems as well. This would be huge to have emergency communications functioning after an earthquake, so damage can be quickly assessed and resources dispatched. This could free the hams to relay personal messages sooner. Hams will still serve as back‐up, as will the 4 satellite phones the city owns (police, fire, Public Works and the EOC have them).   The Lake Oswego Communications system (LOCOM) will be housed in the new police station that is in the planning stages for the property right next to City Hall, and it will be built to Immediate Occupancy, so the guts of our system will be protected.  LOCOM and C‐COM, Clackamas County’s emergency system, serve as backup for each other so we have redundancy built in.

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