Letter | Our old schools — would you feel safe?
March 9, 2012 · 3:01 PM
Seismologists knew comparatively little when our schools were constructed in the 1960s. Would you feel safe sitting in the Mercer Island schools if you knew that:
• Seismic design standards 50 years ago are known to be inadequate today.
• There have been “Great Quakes” from the San Juan Plate just off the Washington Coast.
• Experts now believe there are one or two “Great Quakes” left in that plate.
• A “Great Quake” is not the simple, “up to 7 on the Richter scale quake” we get here every 20 years or so. It will be 100 times stronger.
• There is a fault that runs across the northern third of Mercer Island and is believed to have been the cause of the two sunken forests that broke away from Mercer Island and sank into the lake during the last “Great Quake.”
• Our schools were constructed before any of the above information was known.
• There is “Hollow Concrete Block” construction in all of our school buildings. Hollow concrete block behaves poorly in an earthquake. If used today, code requires steel reinforcement both vertically and horizontally between every course. The concrete block used in our schools is not fully reinforced. Retrofitting is very expensive, and you would still end up with a 50-year-old school to carry us another 50 years.
Mercer Island residents pride themselves in our schools being among the best in the nation. Do you really want our children being taught in classrooms that are both antiquated and not up to today’s seismic standards?
We don’t. Please join us in voting yes.
Emmett & Sandy Maloof