“Don’t Panic, Prepare” – Portland Family is Earthquake Ready

With looming threats of a high magnitude earthquake significantly impacting the Pacific Northwest, it’s important to take steps now to protect your family and your biggest investment—your home.

Earthquake Preparedness for a Dream Home

Living in their dream home, Veronica Marzilli and her family have invested and planned well to protect the structure of the house, and each other, when “the big one” hits. A seismic retrofit, including earthquake bolting and an emergency gas shutoff valve, protect this historic home from seismic damage

They were drawn to the character and old-Portland charm of this 93-year old home in the Laurelhurst neighborhood. “It’s our dream home,” says Veronica. A place where she and her husband will raise their kids and make memories for years to come.

After a weatherization project brought efficiency benefits with air sealing, insulation and new windows with Enhabit in the summer of 2014, Veronica came back seeking seismic retrofits just under a year later in March 2015.

“For us, it wasn’t optional,” she says.

“Don’t Panic, Prepare”

Offering advice to those who may be considering seismic retrofits, Veronica offers, “Just do what you can do. The cost of not having an emergency kit or a seismic retrofit could be so much more. Don’t panic, prepare.”

Enhabit’ partner contractor H.E.L.P. worked to make the house ‘quake ready. Plates, painted to match the rest of the house, were installed on the exterior to secure the walls to the foundation. This ensures both seismic safety and an aesthetically pleasing exterior, blending the structural upgrades into the architectural design of the home.

Another simple, and highly important addition was an automatic shut-off valve for the gas line. When the valve detects earth or house movement, it automatically shuts off the gas flow to the house, reducing the risk of accidental fires. Without the automatic valve, occupants have to be home and know how to turn off the gas line manually. If you can’t do an entire seismic retrofit, having the automatic gas shut-off valve installed is an easy, low-cost step to take.

Earthquake seismic bolts are barely visible on this historic home



Seismic emergency gas shutoff valve is attached to the gas meter on this Portland, Oregon home

Educated and Aware

Veronica’s kids both have their own personal emergency kits, aside from the family emergency kit and the kit stored in their car. Everyone in the family is educated and familiar with response activities in the event of a disaster.

Veronica asks her second-grade daughter, “What do you do if the earthquake happens when you’re in bed?” Her daughter responds calmly, sharing how she knows to get up and put on the shoes that are at her bedside.

Paying attention to the little details now will pay off big time in the future. These kids are prepared to evacuate in case of an eartquake

Added Value from H.E.L.P.

Veronica noted how impressed she was with her contractor, H.E.L.P: “We have dealt with a lot of contractors, and when you find someone that’s good, there’s a value there beyond what the price of the bid is.”

H.E.L.P. completed both of her Enhabit projects. She says, “they had an impressive level of attention to detail, and I knew that I could trust them.” 

Maintaining the character and charm of their old Portland home is important to Veronica and her family, so they were very pleased to see the end result of their seismic retrofit. She happily says, “It’s hard to tell we even had it done.”

Peace of Mind

Another added bonus from an investment in a seismic retrofit is the ability to qualify for earthquake insurance.* Veronica’s insurance agent was able to take care of it the day after the project was finished.

“It gives me peace of mind. I feel so much better knowing we are prepared. A lot of moms can relate to that.”

Ready to prepare your family? Learn more with the earthquake preparedness resources below: