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California has more than a 99% chance of having a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake within the next 30 years, according to scientists using a new model to determine the probability of big quakes. For northern California, the most likely source of such earthquakes is the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault (31% in the next 30 years). The new study determined the probabilities that different parts of California will experience earthquake ruptures of various magnitudes.
The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) estimates that after an earthquake a potential housing loss to Bay Area communities of over 159,000 units. Based on extensive post-earthquake evaluations, experts agree that structural damage can be greatly reduced by following recommended practices of seismic retrofitting.
When checked, Shutterstock's safe search screens restricted content and excludes it from your search results. Thanks to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security, September is National Preparedness Month. Earthquakes, also known as rapid tremors or trembles, are caused by the shifting and breaking of the ground. Now we know this isn’t exactly the type of subject you would choose to discuss with your four year-old niece or nephew at their birthday party, but the best way to be protected, is to be prepared.
Having a plan of action and being equipped with knowledge is crucial in dealing with a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, and families should take the time to establish priorities and practice safety procedures together. Practicing to accommodate various scenarios, with family and friends, also helps provide additional exposure to potential threats and appropriate responses. The state has made it virtually impossible for school districts to access a pot of money set aside for urgent seismic repairs on more than 7,500 school buildings that have been listed for nearly a decade as potentially unsafe, records and interviews show. Five years ago, California voters approved more than $10 billion in bonds for school construction, carving out about $200 million to shore up the state’s seismically unsafe school buildings. But the amount of money needed to address the state's inventory of potentially vulnerable school buildings was far greater – $4.7 billion. As the Schwarzenegger administration decided how to dole out a limited amount of money, it worried about a rush on the funding, according to internal e-mails and memos obtained by California Watch. Instead of thousands of schools vying for the money, about three dozen buildings – at school districts in Humboldt, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Alameda, Los Angeles and San Benito counties – met the requirements. The bureaucratic chains placed on the bond money highlight California's immense challenge in assuring seismic safety at public schools.
In Los Angeles County alone, about 3,000 school buildings remain on the state's list of potentially unsafe structures, according to a California Watch analysis. She added that the standards would exclude nearly the entire state from funding, including the San Francisco Peninsula, which sits atop the San Andreas Fault. Palmer acknowledged that the limited amount of money available for seismic repairs factored into the administration’s decisions about the stringent standards.
After the 2006 bond measure was approved, the Schwarzenegger administration worried about how to categorize the buildings. Their solution was a detailed formula that weighed the expected cost of repairs against the intensity of earthquakes predicted around those vulnerable schools.
The Division of the State Architect – the chief regulator of public school construction – had recommended a lower amount of ground-shaking intensity to enable more schools to qualify for the money. The state architect’s office had originally pushed for a 1.35g intensity level – the measure of ground shaking likely to damage a one- to three-story building.
The Schwarzenegger administration eventually settled on areas that could expect ground movement of at least 1.7g – far more powerful, Zoback said, than the Loma Prieta quake in 1989 and the Northridge quake in 1994. In Long Beach, where school buildings collapsed in a 1933 quake that spawned the state's landmark seismic safety law known as the Field Act, the decision was baffling.
Ending her letter, she requested that the regulations be changed to “ensure that a future seismic event does not again devastate our schools.” Matsumoto, who oversees building projects at Long Beach Unified School District, declined to comment for this story. Faced with district complaints about the program, the state decided to slightly loosen the rules to make it somewhat easier to access the money.

In practical terms, the new calculations did not change the fortunes of schools on the seismic list. In late March, after California Watch began questioning the formula, the State Allocation Board, which controls funding for school districts, created a subcommittee to study ways to create “greater accessibility” to the Seismic Mitigation Program.
Scott Stark, facilities director at Pomona Unified School District, has ordered a detailed seismic assessment of Philadelphia Elementary School. Philadelphia Elementary School would seem to fit into the category of a school in need of a seismic upgrade. In 2002, state officials put the Pomona school on its seismic-hazard inventory and urged the district to hire engineers for structural assessments of its buildings. Moreover, the school sits near the Chino-Central Avenue Fault, which seismologists estimate can produce a magnitude 6.7 earthquake.
The Pomona Unified School District has raised about $300 million in bonds for new construction and renovations. But Pomona Unified administrators have done little to fix the problems at Philadelphia Elementary. An architectural firm, hired by Pomona Unified to determine which schools were seismically vulnerable, left Philadelphia off its report. Scott Stark, facilities director at Pomona, said that district officials assumed the school no longer needed to make seismic repairs when it did not meet the state's requirements.
After talking with California Watch, Stark ordered a detailed assessment of Philadelphia’s buildings. Before heading to the theater, get a bit more comfortable with the Seven Steps to Earthquake Movie Safety, modeled after our original Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety! Step 1: Secure your seat by ordering your tickets online to avoid waiting at the box office! Step 3: Organize snacks from the concession stand (or from your pockets, if you are one of those people) when seated. Step 7: Register to participate in this year's Great ShakeOut earthquake drill, and you'll not only practice how to survive but also learn how to reconnect and restore your daily life quickly when a big earthquake happens! The new statewide probabilities are the result of a model that comprehensively combines information from seismology, earthquake geology, and geodesy (measuring precise locations on the Earth’s surface). The epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake was in the Santa Cruz Mountains, distanced some 30-70 miles from Bay Area cities.
Geological Survey and other scientists now conclude that there is a 63% probability of at least one magnitude 6.7 or greater quake, capable of causing widespread damage, striking somewhere in the San Francisco Bay region in the next 30 years. Retrofitting will reduce the cost of repair, and may even prevent structural damage altogether. During this month, the goal is to help spread awareness about the importance of having a plan in case of an emergency and making sure to put safety first.
They can vary between medium and high risk and can occur in all regions of the United States, at any given time. And although earthquakes are no light matter, you can feel better, knowing that you are more suited to handle an earthquake now than you were at the start of today.
A subsequent analysis for the Office of Public School Construction reduced the number of qualified schools even further – to just 20 buildings in the state. San Ramon Valley High School received $3.6 million to build a new gym, and Piedmont High School was awarded $1 million for two renovation projects. Just two – the gymnasium and a classroom building at Hart High School in Newhall – have qualified for seismic repair funds.
Geological Survey and a vice president at Risk Management Solutions, which advises the insurance industry on catastrophe risk – said she was appalled at the state's restrictive rules.
More than 300 public school structures in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties remain on the state's list of potentially unsafe buildings.
Corbett, D-San Leandro, who spearheaded the effort in 2002 to create the inventory of the state’s most vulnerable school buildings, also said she was surprised the administration had so severely limited access to the repair money.

Palmer – a spokesman for the Department of Finance under Schwarzenegger and the current governor, Jerry Brown – said he doesn’t believe the office made any mistakes in calculating the number of schools that would qualify for the bond money. Among the fears: classifying too many buildings as “most vulnerable” would cause panic and lead to calls to close schools. But Schwarzenegger’s office was persuaded more by the Department of Finance’s argument for a much higher mark, records show. Matsumoto wrote to the Office of Public School Construction, which administers bond funds, to complain that all 31 schools in her district had been rejected, including five high schools with buildings on the list of potentially seismically unsafe facilities.
The state also added more types of buildings – including those with certain types of precast concrete frames – that could qualify for seismic repair funds. State officials said that only a handful of additional buildings, on top of the existing 20 buildings, would now qualify for funding. The school uses four buildings that state engineers have determined could be potentially hazardous in an earthquake.
The school and 22 others were shut out because they did not meet the funding qualifications established by the Schwarzenegger administration, documents show. Choose a newer theater if possible that will have been built to more recent building codes. Get down on the floor (or bend over in your seat), place one hand on the back of your head, and one hand on the seat in front of you – then hold on!
The USGS warns that should an earthquake strike at one of the closer fault areas, such as the Hayward fault, shaking in local cities can be expected to be 5 to 12 times stronger than it was in 1989. It also means that recovery, repair and rebuilding time for every household will be very lengthy, due to the number of homes that will need repairs or replacement. Many homeowners have made a conscious choice to accept the earthquake risk personally by declining earthquake coverage.
Arnold Schwarzenegger boasted that it was the first time the state had earmarked funds specifically to improve earthquake safety in schools.
The administration outlined its concerns in a May 1, 2007, “Governor’s Office Action Request” sent by the Department of General Services and the State and Consumer Services Agency. Then use the time saved to secure your space at home by installing TV and furniture straps, cabinet latches, and other solutions to prevent damage and injury. Fortunately, the real earthquakes in our future won’t be as extreme as those depicted in movies, but some will still cause widespread damage.
At home you can minimize financial hardship even more if you organize important documents, strengthen your property, and consider insurance. Therefore, there is an ongoing need for all communities to continue preparing for the quakes that will strike in the future. The earthquake probability is highest for the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault system, 31%, or nearly 1 out of 3.
Governmental resources to help with damage recovery, especially at the personal level, are declining. We've got what you need to celebrate Earth Day (and prep for the summer) by keeping your lawn green! All these factors, together, make it even more critical to focus on the prevention of earthquake-related damages. It will also reduce the amount of time and effort needed for recovery, returning your family much more quickly back to your normal life style.

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