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Bill Rosendahl - Council District 11






Friday, November 14, 2008

Earthquake Preparedness

Last Thursday, Los Angeles participated in the Great Southern California Shakeout, the largest coordinated earthquake preparedness drill in the state’s history. This simulated quake coincided with the International Earthquake Conference, held in Downtown LA, where experts from around the world shared key information about likely earthquake scenarios and how to prepare for disaster.

The simulated disaster scenario is magnitude 7.8 earthquake on the southern San Andreas Fault, with shaking lasting for two minutes in Los Angeles. This massive quake would dwarf the 1994 Northridge temblor and is predicted to cause 2,000 deaths, 50,000 injuries, and $200 billion in damage. Hundreds of fires resulting from damaged gas and electrical lines will cause a majority of the destruction, and it may take crews up to a week to restore basic services and provide relief supplies.

This is certainly a scary prospect, but we can all take action to be prepared for “The Big One.” Be sure that your family has emergency supplies to last for up to seven days following a major earthquake. Establish emergency contacts out of state for communicating because damage to the phone system may make local calls impossible. Ensure that you know how to disconnect your gas, electricity, and water following an earthquake.

As part of the International Earthquake Conference, my staff participated in demonstrations of the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Urban Search and Rescue team. This unit uses elite search dogs, remote cameras, and heavy equipment to locate and rescue victims in the event of a structure collapse. The team trains at a site in Van Nuys that is littered with rubble from freeway support beams, tangles of rebar, and an old Metrolink train car to prepare for every possible rescue scenario.

I believe that ensuring public safety is the top priority for any government body, and our whole City of Los Angeles team is well positioned to respond to a major disaster. Here are some references to help you and your family prepare for a major earthquake that is very likely to occur in Southern California at some point in the next 30 years.

FEMA Earthquake Preparedness website:

City of LA Emergency Management Department website:

Details on the magnitude 7.8 ShakeOut scenario:

Unlike a hurricane or wildfire, an earthquake will strike with no advance warning. Preparation for such a disaster is essential, and I encourage you to take action now.

- Bill