Portland Natural Disasters: Is your Home at Risk?

natural disasters portland

Whether you currently own a home in Portland or are thinking of buying one, you may be thinking about how a natural disaster might affect where you live.

The good news is, Portland, Oregon is not in the path of tropical storms, hurricanes, or tornadoes, and we consider a foot of snow to be a major winter event. But that doesn’t mean we’re immune to disaster – especially mudslides, earthquakes and flooding. In a temperate region that normally doesn’t deal with a lot of extreme weather, even strong winds and some ice can leave many residents without access to the basics.

What can the Portland home owner or home buyer do to be prepared? The most important thing is to think ahead. The actual location and structure of your home is just as important as having a good supply of emergency items.

As a rule, older homes have a greater risk of damage from natural disaster. According to a University of Oregon study, two-thirds of the Portland area’s housing was built before 1980. Check your potential or existing home for faulty wiring, cracks in foundation and loose gas connections. A solid house can withstand a slew of disasters, but one that needs repair can turn a small event into a dangerous situation. Homes in Oregon are always appraised before sale, and major problems like these will be brought to attention. However, it’s often up to the new home buyer to address them.

Location matters, too. When Portland experiences heavy rains, as it does almost every winter, hilly areas are at a risk for mudslides. A mudslide is simply the natural shifting of a hill that occurs when the ground becomes oversaturated with water. The resulting flow of mud can be unpredictable and dangerous.

Knowing whether your home is at risk for mudslides requires a little research. The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries has great information on what the risk is for mudslides, flooding, volcanic activity, and a host of other disasters.

For any natural disaster, preparation is key. Keep in mind that traveling across Portland in the event of a natural disaster is made even more difficult by the many bridges we rely on. Have a well stocked emergency supply kit and a plan for your family’s communications. Know alternative routes to get to where you need to be.

Your Portland Real Estate Agent knows the area and can help you find the safest location to relocate. The best thing you can do is be an informed buyer, so go with the professionals who can answer all your questions.

Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries

Oregon’s Earthquake Risk and Resiliency

November 17, 2012

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

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