I moved to San Diego over 25 years ago, from good 'ol Iowa. In my youth I survived two tornadoes. Surviving a tornado is simple...get as far underground as you can and wait. A few months after moving here to San Diego I experienced my first earthquake. I was returning from my honeymoon with my wife in October of 1987 and we stayed overnight at her mother's home in Brea. The Whittier earthquake hit. It was a 5.9 magnitude. I woke up to the sound that was a cross between the sound of a freight train and rocks grinding. Everything in our room was falling to the floor and the lights were swinging. As any good Iowan would try to do...I headed to the basement...only to find that there aren't any basements here in California.
As damaging as the Whittier earthquake was, people were still mobile. Food, water, and emergency supplies were readily available for the people. First responders were quick to arrive on the scene. And life just kept on.
The same thing could be said of the Northridge earthquake. Thousands were temporarily homeless, and 9,000 homes were without electricity for days. 12,500 structures were moderately to severely damaged. Roadways were destroyed. But it was only a hiccup in our daily routines.
As Californians we are resilient. We live in earthquake country. We not only experience earthquakes, we expect them. That expectation, however, is our biggest liability when it comes to the San Andreas Fault. The best way that Californians deal with earthquakes is to live in denial. And that denial leads us to do no pre-planning or preparation. We will just deal with it when it comes, right? That may work for other earthquakes, but not the San Andreas.
The southern tip of the San Andreas has not ruptured in over 320 years. It has the highest probability of being the next big earthquake in California (the California Emergency Management Agency). Its threat has been upgraded from a potential 7.8 to an 8.1 potentially over a 340 mile stretch and will shake for minutes. (U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones ).
This is no average California earthquake. As it ruptures it will move the upper surface 30 feet in opposite directions. Roads will be severed and some destroyed from landslides leaving us cut off from the rest of the country. 10,000 aftershocks are predicted in the first few months after the earthquake happens. Communications will be down. The 3 water lines that allow us to import 90% of our water go directly across the San Andreas, along with the natural gas pipelines. It is projected that over 5,000 people will die, over 50,000 will be seriously injured, hundreds of thousands will be homeless. And over 20 million people will be impacted by the aftermath. Total economic impact will be in the hundreds of billions of dollars.
This is NOT a "typical" California earthquake. This is the mother of all earthquakes.
After the shaking we will be cut off from the lifelines that we take advantage of every day. We will be without clean drinking water for weeks, but more like 6 months or longer. The Rail system will be down, the freeways will not be operable. The harbors will be shut down, airports destroyed. We will be cut off from our food sources. The power grids are projected to be down for months. In some areas it could be 12 months or longer before normal power is restored. And as San Diego had a wake up call last fall with the power outage, we were highly inconvenienced for 12-18 hours. Imagine not having power for weeks if not months! Just what will you do to heat water, bath, cook food, use for lighting, what will you eat and most important - what will you drink?
The biggest part of this crisis is that the people of southern California are not ready for it. We continue to live in denial (it won't happen in my lifetime, or worse yet - it won't be that bad). We live in an entitlement society - we believe the government has to and will take care of us. People really live in ignorance if they believe that there is a government agency that exists that is going to come in and provide food and water for the 20 million people that will need it. Just look at hurricane Katrina and what took place and then multiply a San Andreas disaster by 4 to 5 times. That is more of a picture of reality.
Survival from the San Andreas relies on self-sufficiency and some sort of planning. I suggest 2 things: First, understand what the San Andreas earthquake will do and Second, put together a plan that take care of your family after.
In conjunction with Be Ready Inc., in Oceanside (a disaster preparedness company that has been around for over 20 years), and the local scientists, seismologists, California Emergency Management Agency, California Earthquake Authority, and the Red Cross, I have developed a seminar that discusses what can be expected from a large earthquake and what you have to do to prepare. These seminars are free to the public. We can come to your school, church, business, association, or chamber of commerce and provide this seminar for you. We are also finishing an educational website learntobeready.com that will provide disaster plans, training videos, free webinars, and downloadable forms that you can use.
In addition, this upcoming Saturday, June 30th Be Ready Inc. is sponsoring a at the Be Ready Store at 602 Garrison Street (corner of Oceanside Blvd and Garrison). Industry experts will be on hand. Seminars will be provided throughout the day (I will be presenting twice on the topic of the San Andreas). Ham Radio experts and Section leaders will be present to educate you on how you can maintain some sort of communications when the cell phone lines are down. For full details you can go to: bereadyinc.com and look for the prepper fair link.
I will also be posting blogs over the next few months giving you ideas and tips on how best to prepare for a San Andreas earthquake or other large-scale disaster. You can email me with your questions at email@example.com and I may use your emails in my upcoming posts.
I only have one request of you - don't ignore it or put off planning any longer. Once the rupture occurs you will live in fear, or you will be at ease knowing exactly what you and your family need to do and you will have the supplies to survive it.