OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington took the first step Thursday toward catching up with California and Oregon in funding an earthquake early warning system.
Gov. Jay Inslee's new budget includes $5 million for 83 new ShakeAlert sensors, a system that will warn people to take cover before the ground shakes.
"The governor recognized that earthquake preparedness is crucial to public safety," Inslee spokeswoman Tara Lee wrote to KIRO 7. "We haven't been able to secure funding for this in previous budgets."
In November, a KIRO 7 investigation showed how the state is falling behind on ShakeAlert, in part because the state has not supplemented federal funding for the sensor system.
California has already allocated $25 million in state money and Oregon has spent about $1 million.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's new budget includes a $12 million package that will benefit ShakeAlert.
"This doesn't fully meet our gaps, but it goes a long way," said Bill Steele of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network at the University of Washington about Inslee's proposal.
Officials at Washington's Emergency Management Division said the $5 million allocation for sensors was a surprise, as they had only requested $240,000 for public outreach.
Maximilian Dixon, earthquake program manager for the Washington Emergency Management Division, wrote to KIRO 7, "This is a huge win for Washington! This funding will not only significantly speed up our ability to roll out ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) to the public, but also guarantee that we will actually be able to fully implement the seismic network."
Inslee's budget, which needs legislative approval, also includes $1 million to work with schools on preparing for catastrophes, and $928,000 for 16 coastal tsunami sirens.
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