All of us by now have experienced the widespread economic impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic, whether from business closures, confinement to our homes, unemployment, working remotely, or unavailability of services we have come to depend on.  Disruption has been extensive.

And it’s likely that most of us know someone who has been personally impacted by illness or death.

Pandemic Turns Thoughts to Other Disaster-Related Threats

Photo Credit to Politico

COVID-19 raged into our communities invisibly, much like a major earthquake or other natural disaster might, the impacts have been very much the same: lives lost, hundreds hospitalized, businesses shuttered, jobs lost and our economy largely shutdown.

Risks of an L.A. Earthquake

If a 7.8-magnitude earthquake were to strike along the San Andreas Fault near Los Angeles , one in every 16 buildings in the region could be damaged, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

That’s 300,000 structures.

Other USGS projections for this scenario include:

  • 1,059 deaths
  • 453 serious injuries
  • 13,454 “non-fatal” injuries
  • 121,339 displaced households (3.5 million individuals)

The USGS “ShakeOut” study anticipates that at least five pre-1994 steel moment-frame high-rise buildings would collapse under this scenario, with about 5,000 people inside them if the quake strikes during regular business hours.

As many as 50 low- and mid-rise concrete moment-frame buildings would collapse, and 900 unreinforced masonry buildings would be irreparably damaged.

Dangerous Misconceptions

The USGS launched the ShakeOut scenario study to get people thinking and taking action to be earthquake-ready. (More than 300 experts from a variety of fields collaborated to prepare the report.)

The USGS study was very clear.

“(This study) was developed to break through a common, dangerous misconception that goes something like this: My home/my business made it through the Northridge earthquake so I know what future earthquakes will be like and can rest assured I will make it through the next one, too.

“Natural disasters come in many sizes, and the disasters most likely to cause catastrophes are those large enough to have regional, long-term consequences. No Californians have experienced an earthquake like this except for survivors of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.”

The Northridge quake of 1994, (magnitude 6.7), is not an appropriate point of reference for a catastrophe, because it was simply not large enough to cause catastrophic devastation, the USGS warns.

Slow Recovery

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, communities and surviving businesses.

Los Angeles was able to turn to other Southern California communities for mutual aid because the damage was minor and concentrated in a small region relative to what would happen in a ShakeOut scenario.

Following a major earthquake, 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 experienced 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 the knowledge we now have to plan and be ready for the future.