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US$36M investment in landslide mitigation promised following Oso report

US Washington state governor Jay Inslee has promised to commit US$36M of funding for landslide mitigation measures following publication of the final report into the Oso landslide that claimed the lives of 43 people in February 2014.

The funding announced in the wake of the SR 530 Landslide Commission report will include advanced LiDAR imagery and risk analysis for priority areas.

“We cannot undo the loss of 43 Washingtonians, but the commission’s work should stand as a tribute to the community’s resilience and compassion,” said Inslee. “We will also fund statewide GIS mapping and creates a Hazard Identification Institute to be the central clearinghouse for geological hazard information in Washington.

“Finally, it makes us all safer by funding an Emergency Management Task Force that will ensure the right talent and resources are delivered as quickly as possible to future disasters — whatever they may be.”

SR 530 Landslide Commission: lessons learned

The report states that there are “are profound lessons to be learned from the SR 530 Landslide that must be acted uponto enhance public safety statewide”.

The investigation commends the emergency response in light of issues with logistics and lack of specialist skills but calls for more clarity in terms of leadership when responding to future events and more cooperation between services. The recommendations include calling for all-hazard response for fire crews after the local fire service initially refused to help the rescue effort because it was a “non-fire” emergency.

The report says that that knowledge and understanding of landslide hazards is not well developed in Washington state and there is a need to refine and expand geologic and geohazard mapping.

A key point highlighted for future landslide assessment is that “not all landslides behave the same, it should not be assumed that all of the rescues and recoveries from future landslides will be found in distal or far end areas, as was the case with the SR 530 Landslide. Therefore, it is critical that geological experts be brought in as soon as possible to characterise a landslide and predict where rescues and recoveries are likely to be located.

The report calls for expansion of data collection and landslide mapping efforts, which will provide the foundation for sound public and private land-use planning and decision-making. The SR 530 Landslide highlights the need to incorporate landslide hazard, risk, and vulnerability assessments into land-use planning, and to expand and refine geological and geohazard mapping.

One of the other recommendations made in the report was to raise public awareness of geological hazards.

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