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.