Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 19, 2014

California earthquakes or why Jimmy Kimmel is horrible for homeland security

Filed under: Catastrophes,General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on March 19, 2014

I’ll admit up front – I’ve never lived in California and have no direct experience with earthquakes anywhere in that state or the West coast in general.

However, recent news out of Los Angeles following a weak-ish quake has me wondering.  Could LA be really this unprepared for a large earthquake?

As detailed in October by Times reporters Ron Lin, Rosanna Xia and Doug Smith, San Francisco was rightfully alarmed into doing something after the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, which killed 63 people and injured nearly 4,000. The city established the Community Action Plan for Seismic Safety.

Los Angeles was equally alarmed by the 1994 Northridge quake, which killed 57 people, injured 5,000 and caused $20 billion worth of damage. But instead of drafting a plan to be better prepared the next time, city officials went into a deep sleep.

So now San Francisco is in the third year of a 30-year action plan outlining every aspect of preparedness, beginning with structural design standards, the retrofitting of wood-frame buildings and an examination of every private school structure in the city.

And Los Angeles?

We’re starting from scratch after being shamed into doing something by The Times’ earthquake series.

I can understand the incentive to kick the can down the road, however it seems like San Francisco has embraced this challenge:

Nobody loved the idea of shelling out money, San Francisco officials told me. But the mayor called a roundup of building owners and the bankers who finance their businesses and encouraged them to choose safety over risk, protecting lives and their own financial self-interest at the same time.

The point being for LA:

Nancy King, geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said: “We live in earthquake country and we can expect earthquakes frequently and the big one, one day. We don’t know when that one’s coming.”

King said she hopes Monday’s earthquake can be used as a teachable event for residents to be better prepared for earthquakes.

“We need to get ready and I think the good news about earthquakes is you can get ready,” she said, adding that residents can do things such as bolting down heavy furniture and securing bookcases that could help dramatically during a strong event.

And the award for biggest schmuck on late night/asking for people to be injured or killed in the next big earthquake, Jimmy Kimmel:

By the way, “diving under your desk” is the right thing to do according to experts.

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Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 19, 2014 @ 8:13 am

What is useful to first responders in LA and California and a company which has doubled and doubled in size making valued contributions and all of us who are interested in Homeland Security and community applauding such achievement in contributing to enhancing response and organization in addressing urgent disaster requirements:

Team Rubicon: using Palantir to improve disaster recovery | Palantir http://www.palantir.com/2013/07/team-rubicon-using-palantir-to-improve-disaster-recovery/ … via @PalantirTech


Comment by William R. Cumming

March 19, 2014 @ 10:58 am

While the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act did not result in earthquake prediction, it did contain a rather unusual statutory mandate. That mandate was for the President to create and implement and operate a Federal Plan for Response to a Catastrophic Earthquake.

It took a decade for it to appear [published in the Federal Register] but the plan was published and adopted. One unsung hero[ine] in getting the plan through review and coordination was Mel Presgraves.

The Plan even contained a Law Enforcement Annex authored by DoJ.

In 1989 the Plan was redesignated the Natural Hazards Response Plan. And in 1992 {May} 90 days before Hurricane Andrew it became the Federal Response Plan with significant amendment revision in 1999.

A history [draft] of federal civil response planning with military support appears on my website at http://www.vacationlanegrp.com.

After 9/11 the FRP warped again into the National Response Plan [NRF] and then again into the National Response Framework [NRF].

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 19, 2014 @ 10:59 am

Again lengthy comments by me have disappeared somewhere!

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 19, 2014 @ 11:04 am

For a history of federal civil response planning see chart on my website at http://www.vacationlanegrp.com.

For an earthquake specific chart contact Claire Rubin the Recovery Diva.

A FEMA study for the NSC released in an unclassified version predicting 10,000 dead, 500K homeless needing mass care after the “Big One” was released in 1980!

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 19, 2014 @ 8:41 pm

In 1980 FEMA released an unclassified version of a study for the NSC for probable losses/risks to population should the Big One hit S. CA.

10,000 dead, 50-100K injured, 500K homeless needing Mass Care [food, shelter, First Aid] for 90-180 days or more.

I believe the study was designated M&A 20 [1980]!

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 20, 2014 @ 2:23 am

My missing comments largely dealt with the earth sciences and earthquake prediction. Persons interested might follow vulcanism in the Cascade Range, Mono Lake CA, and the Yellowstone region and the recent historical geologic history of those areas.

Oversight of the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act as currently amended is with the Science Committees of the House and Senate!

Can you name the President’s Science Advisor?

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