Emergency management authorities in California were recently reminded of the urgency and importance of their jobs after the state suffered from two moderate earthquakes, and dozens of aftershocks, within just a two week period. Though neither of the tremblers was serious enough to cause major damage, they nevertheless served as a powerful sign of what could go wrong in the case of a major earthquake. California State officials are signaling that they got the message loud and clear.
Officials are warning that in the case of a major earthquake and tsunami, low lying sections of the state, including Long Beach and other low lying cities in Southern California, will likely be hardest hit. Waterfront homes and commercial developments would be especially vulnerable. If the earthquake and tsunami nightmare scenario were to come to pass, state emergency management professionals estimate that upwards of three quarters of a million people would need to be evacuated across California. The economic impact would also be significant, ranging between an estimated $5 billion and $10 billion dollars.
Over the past 17 years authorities in California have been battling a general malaise in the public’s attitude toward preparing for a major earthquake. Californians, who at one time saw relatively routine magnitude five earthquakes, have grown accustomed to living with very little seismic activity over the past two decades. But emergency management professionals in the state are now looking to use the two recent earthquakes as a cautionary tale, and convince Californian’s to once again become vigilant.
Among the most pressing preparations, experts say, is the reinforcing of hundreds of older concrete buildings which would be a grave risk of collapsing in a strong earthquake. Additionally, experts caution that the state as a whole must continue, and even accelerate, it’s preparations in order to minimize the number of casualties should a major earthquake hit.