20,000 Portland commercial buildings could collapse in quake

20,000 Portland commercial buildings could collapse in quake

20,000 Portland commercial buildings could collapse in quake

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by Randy Neves

NWCN.com

Posted on March 16, 2011 at 9:24 AM

PORTLAND -- Portland's many buildings are simply not ready for a major earthquake, experts say.

A structural engineer in charge of monitoring the city’s buildings says due to their ages, any of the nearly 20,0000 non-residential buildings in Portland were made of certain materials -- and made in such a way- they'd crumble in a sustained, violent earthquake.

About eight to ten percent of them are like the Multnomah County Courthouse. They're made of what's called unreinforced masonry, bricks and mortar with no steel to brace them.

The city's structural engineer says those would be first to go in an especially long, powerful earthquake.

“The brick would probably just crumble,” said Amit Krumer, Senior Structural Engineer with the City of Portland. “And the building would collapse and the walls are not tied back to the roofs or the floors and so they will separate causing the floors to fall.”

Among the masonry buildings about ten percent are much like City Hall, reinforced with braces or shock absorbers to withstand violent shaking.

As for the taller buildings, they're usually designed to sway back and forth in a quake to let that energy dissipate.

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