The Big One

A new study on Earthquakes predicts that Southern California has a 97% chance of experiencing a 6.7 magnitude quake (same as Northridge in ’94) sometime between now and 2038.

The experts from the U.S Geological Survey, USC’s Souther California Earthquake Center and the State Geological Survey speak with such statistical conviction that it is easy to forgive them the lack of specifics when discussing time and place, details that would make it easier to plan ahead.

As it stands, we simply have the impending certainty of a huge stress-relieving quake and the opportunity to prepare for it by addressing our emergency response plans.

As the experts debate the odds of a 6.7 quake vs. a 7.5 quake (97% vs 37%) the real benefit of the forecasting models is the impetus it provides us for addressing our community policies, from construction and development and zoning to emergency preparedness and community response plans.

The LA Times points out:

In recent years, several pieces of legislation aimed at boosting earthquake safety have failed, and experts worry that households have lapsed in their quake preparedness.

“We’re generally frustrated by the pace in which scientific results are incorporated into policy,” said David Jackson, a UCLA seismologist who was part of a review panel for the research.

The fact that the study was funded by an insurance conglomerate stirred a bit of speculation that the most significant and immediate damage to Southern California might simply be an increase in home-owner insurance rates.

Plans are currently underway for the “Great Southern California ShakeOut” to be held on November 13, 2008 and consisting of a week-long series of special events “that will inspire Souther Californians to get ready for big earthquakes and keep our disasters from becoming catastrophes.”

In the meantime, the Woodland Hills Warner Center Neighborhood Council offers community members the opportunity to prepare for emergencies by participating in the Public Safety Committee and by engaging in Community Emergency Response Team training.

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