The COVID-19 pandemic has us all thinking differently about what it means to be prepared for widespread calamity.
The virus raged into our communities somewhat unexpectedly, much like an earthquake or other natural catastrophe might, and the impacts under these real and projected scenarios are the same: lives lost, hundreds hospitalized, businesses shuttered, and economic shutdown.
Long Beach has seen this level of devastation before — in the form of Southern California’s deadliest earthquake —but the March 10, 1933 event has faded from popular memory.
That 6.4-magnitude quake, caused some 120 deaths, 500 injuries and $50 million in damage ($921 million in today’s dollars) in Long Beach, Huntington Park, Compton and surrounding areas.
120 schools were destroyed or severely damaged in the quake, but untold numbers of children were spared from death or injury that day because the quake happened around dinner time – just hours after students left their schools.
Legislation Enacted to Save Lives
The widespread destruction – and realization that many of Southern California’s children could have easily been killed – prompted the state of California just one month later to adopt the Field Act, which authorized a thorough architectural review of all new public schools. The Garrison Act of 1939 required reviews of existing schools built prior to the Long Beach Quake.
Today, because of these and other laws put in place to improve building regulations, the damage caused by earthquakes is much less than what it was in the past. However, Southern California has yet to see seismic activity significantly larger than the Long Beach temblor. The 1994 Northridge quake – the nation’s most expensive earthquake in terms of damage – measured 6.7 on the Richter scale compared to Long Beach’s 6.4.
A Quake Worse Than Northridge
Most of us think of the Northridge quake of 1994 when assessing risks associated with a major earthquake.
At a magnitude 6.7, that quake is not an appropriate point of reference for gauging what might be — it was simply not large enough to cause catastrophic devastation, the USGS warns.
After Northridge, most businesses were able to regroup fairly quickly, but after a regional disaster, so many will struggle for such a long time that a much greater number will fail, creating a domino effect that hurts employees, customers, and surviving businesses, the USGS states in its ShakeOut scenario study projecting the impacts of a 7.6-magnitude quake.
In the Northridge quake, mutual aid was available from neighboring communities because the damage was concentrated in a relatively small region.
Following the “Big One,” nearby neighbors would need help too, and mutual aid would be slower to arrive — coming from Arizona, Nevada and Northern California, the USGS explained.
The coronavirus has prompted many of us to take a new look at the importance of resilience on a personal, community, regional and state level.
We have been given a dramatic reminder of the need to be prepared for major emergencies at all times. When it comes to major earthquakes, will your apartment building survive?
Have your building evaluated for earthquake safety today and use that knowledge to plan and be ready for the future. Remember, it’s not a matter of if, it’s when.
Is your building at risk? Thousands are. Use that knowledge to protect your future. Contact Optimum Seismic today at optimumseismic.com or call (833)978-7663 to arrange for a free property assessment.