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NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: KATHY FULLER - Citizens turned out Oct. 10 to Quake Up!, held during the Farmers Market in downtown Hillsboro. The earthquake preparedness fair organized by members of the Citizens Participation Organization program, gave members of the community ideas for the supplies needed after a Cascadia Zone earthquake including, in left of photo, a couple of buckets to contain human waste.It will happen.

Maybe tomorrow. Maybe in five years. Maybe in 50. Scientists can’t predict when earthquakes will occur, but a big one is due on the west coast.

No matter when, it’s best to be prepared. With that in mind, organizers of Quake Up!, held in downtown Hillsboro last Saturday, brought together local agencies to inform and encourage community members to get prepared in the event of a major earthquake.

The Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake, fast becoming a regular topic of conversation in the Pacific Northwest, has the potential to cause major damage in and around Washington County.

While police, fire and other first responders are prepared, the organizers of Quake Up! — the Oregon State Extension Service’s Citizen Participation Organization program — want to help local residents help themselves.

This first event drew more than 1,000 folks downtown to visit booths designed to help families and individuals in urban and rural areas prepare for large earthquakes. A variety of hands-on exhibits for kids and adults helped engage people to start preparing for “the big one.”

Speakers at the event included Jo Becker, an animal preparedness advocate; Dr. Jeff Rubin, emergency manager with Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue; and U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Dist. 1).

In talking with people about the importance of preparing for a quake, Becker said addressing pets’ needs often spurs people to prepare themselves as well.

“I pull a little on the heart strings. People will do for their animals, kids and the elderly before themselves,” she said.

Bonamici has worked at the federal level to get FEMA money (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to prepare ahead of time for a disaster, so emergency response afterward isn’t as expensive.

“Raising awareness about emergency preparedness in our communities is critical. Families should have a plan in place in the event of a major earthquake or other natural disaster, and our government should do the same,” Bonamici said.

“That’s why I’m advocating for funding for FEMA and other federal agencies to support preparedness efforts at the state and local level. Planning ahead can save lives and property.”

One of the event organizers, Peggy Harris of CPO 15, estimated about 1,000 citizens had filtered through the information booths by the end of the morning.

“We’re hoping this will be a template for other communities,” to use in setting up similar events, Harris said.

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