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Grays Harbor schools not at high risk of landslides

May 5, 2014

A new draft report from Washington’s Superintendent of Public Instruction found that 15 public schools in Washington are within 500 feet of a mapped landslide zone. No schools in Grays Harbor are included in the high risk areas.

The report also finds that 28 Washington schools have a steep slope with a “high” risk of sliding in the immediate vicinity. This includes Wishkah Valley.

Willapa Valley, as well as Lincoln and Washington Elementary in Hoquiam are listed as “moderate” risk.

Aberdeen and Hoquiam High Schools are both listed with “low” risk.

It’s not just landslides. The draft report finds that Washington schools face threats from nine different kinds of natural hazards. Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Floods, Wildfires, Volcanoes, and Landslides pose the greatest threat according to the report.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean we need to start packing our bags and shutting down schools,” said report co-author Robert Dengel with OSPI. “But talking about risk in a real and practical way.”

OSPI has partnered with 28 school districts in a pilot project to help them create their own hazard mitigation plans. Dengel gives the example of the Ocosta School District and their vertical evacuation building.

In the case of landslides, Dengel said districts may want to have a geotechnical engineer do a formal on-site assessment of the slide risk. But it might not even take that to rule out a threat.

The draft report is the first of its kind in the nation and was made possible by a 2012 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

OSPI will accept public comments on the draft until July 25. A final report is due out this fall.


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