Nisqually earthquake anniversary is reminder to prepare
February 28, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 8 a.m. Feb. 28, 2012
The ground shook for 45 stomach-churning seconds starting at 10:54 a.m. Feb. 28, 2001, as the last major earthquake to occur in the Puget Sound region rattled buildings and jangled nerves.
The earthquake cracked the Capitol dome in Olympia and caused widespread damage across the region, injured hundreds of people and left billions of dollars in property damage.
Tuesday marks 11 years since the Nisqually earthquake — a magnitude-6.8 temblor credited for changing attitudes about emergency preparedness in Issaquah, King County and statewide.
City leaders credited the temblor for alerting officials and residents to the importance of disaster preparedness and response. The city participates in regular disaster-response exercises, such as the regional Sound Shake drill.
Issaquah School District planners also learned lessons since the earthquake occurred.
In the aftermath, county officials acted to retrofit the courthouse to stricter seismic standards. The seismic retrofit, plus safety improvements to the building, cost $105 million. Crews completed the project on time and under budget.
King County International Airport at Boeing Field also suffered damage, including cracks in the main runway. The county embarked on significant repairs to the runways, storm drains and taxiways. Crews also carried out a seismic upgrade to the air traffic control tower.
The earthquake also acted as a reminder for residents to prepare for future temblors. (Washington experiences more than 1,000 tremors each year, although most temblors do not cause damage or even receive much notice from residents.)
Officials conduct statewide earthquake drills for Disaster Preparedness Month in April and National Preparedness Month in September.
Local emergency response agencies, including Eastside Fire & Rescue, and nonprofit organizations, such as the local American Red Cross chapter, also offers tips for residents to use amid disasters.