California and Mexico, our neighbor to the south, are all-too familiar with the devastation that earthquakes can bring, and both have found the push for building resilience has frequently been met with resistance.

No one wants to think about how an earthquake could turn their lives upside-down.

But on June 23, life changed for many people Oaxaca – a state located on the southern tip of Mexico – when a 7.4-magnitude quake struck and killed seven, injured many more, and damaged a multitude of buildings, including 21 hospitals, according to the Washington Post.

“We lost everything in one moment to nature,” Vicente Romero, an owner of a stationary store whose house was damaged in the earthquake, told Reuters. “This is our life’s work.”

Mexico is one of the world’s most seismically active regions and has a long history of devastating earthquakes. In 1985, an 8.0-magnitude quake in Mexico City killed 5,000 people. In 2017, two powerful earthquakes – at magnitudes of 7.1 and 8.1 – hit the country in two weeks, toppling buildings, cracking highways and killing hundreds of people.

Sadly, buildings that survived the earthquake in 1985 were thought to be resilient – but many of them tumbled in the more recent quakes.

Los Angeles Area Faces Earthquake Risks

If a 7.8-magnitude earthquake were to strike along the San Andreas Fault in Los Angeles , one in every 16 buildings – more than 300,000 structures – would be damaged, the USGS determined in its ShakeOut scenario compiled by more than 300 experts from a variety of fields. Under this scenario, the study also projected:

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

At least five pre-1994 steel moment-frame high-rise buildings would collapse, with about 5,000 people inside them if the quake strikes during regular business hours. And, as many as 50 low- and mid-rise concrete moment-frame buildings would collapse, and 900 unreinforced masonry buildings would be irreparably damaged, the study found.

Businesses would close, people would not be able to get to work, and an exodus of residents would flee, leaving the City of Angels behind for others to rebuild.

This scenario, as depicted in the “Great ShakeOut,” would “have devastating economic consequences for the eight-county region comprising Southern California, researchers at the University of Southern California determined: as much as $113 billion in damages, $68 billion in business interruption and nearly $11 billion in other costs.

Earthquake Retrofits Can Protect Your Building

Throughout California, there are tens of thousands of buildings that have been deemed vulnerable to collapse in a major earthquake (and hundreds of thousands of people living, working and doing business in them).

This includes wood-framed, soft-story structures built before 1978, tilt-ups constructed prior to the late 1970s, and some non-ductile and steel moment frame buildings.

Guarding against their failure or collapse in an earthquake serves the interests of property owners, tenants and community, because it:

  • Saves lives and prevents injury
  • Keeps businesses open and homes intact
  • Protects equity and income streams
  • Guards against liability for property damage, deaths and injuries

As in Mexico, Californians have had ample warning that major earthquakes will happen.

If you think your building is at risk and want to protect your building, assets and tenants, contact Optimum Seismic today at (833)978-7664 or visit for a free structural engineering evaluation.