The 7.1 magnitude quake in Mexico was a jarring reminder of the “Big One” that experts warn may be in California’s not-too-distant future. Small quakes are a fact of life along the West Coast, the most recent being a 3.6 tremor that shook LA’s Westside late on Monday night.
History suggests a big one is coming, but the question is, when? The second question is, will California be ready?
Californians from Los Angeles to San Francisco are anxious and on edge, wondering if they will be the next to be hit by a massive earthquake.
A study from the US Geological Survey says the chance of a magnitude 8 quake, or larger, in the next 30 years has doubled since 2008. Experts say a major quake along the San Andreas fault in southern California could kill 1800 people, injure 53,000, destroy 1500 buildings and damage 300,000 more. A serious earthquake could also cripple the city’s water supply and take as long as six months to repair.
“Such disruption to our water system, it’ll take up to 6 months to get the water back into our homes. If life becomes too miserable, if you can’t get the infrastructure back, people give up and leave. And so you know infrastructure especially, who thinks about the pipes in the ground? We don’t want to spend money on that – its out of sight out of mind. And yet, the resilience of those structures is the future of those communities,” says the Mayor of Los Angeles’s special seismic advisor, British-born seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones.
While nearly 14 billion dollars has been spent on seismic upgrades to transportation infrastructure, including bridges, the city of LA now requires property owners to retrofit buildings that cannot withstand a strong earthquake.
Forewarned is forearmed. So is Los Angeles ready for the big one?
“LA is getting ready, and is far more ready than other cities, but LA is huge there are a lot of old structures,” says the Vice President, Engineering, at Alpha Structural Inc., Mark Schlaich.
A new preparedness plan for LA has arrived on Mayor Eric Garcetti’s desk, but it has not yet been released, and the US House of Representatives recently approved federal funding for a earthquake early warning system, for a worst-case scenario that may come with no warning at all, reports Jo Ling Kent for euronews’ partner, NBC.