This report makes interesting reading in the light of our preparations for emergencies.
According to a USGS study called the “Shakeout Report”, when a high-magnitude earthquake rocks the San Andreas fault, the damage will go far beyond the collapsed buildings and freeways seen in the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
For example, L.A.-area supermarkets now depend on internet systems for warehousing and shipping food to stores, and the food is stored on the other side of the San Andreas fault.
“With the development of the internet and the new just-in-time economy, none of them store food on the Los Angeles side of the San Andreas anymore,” Jones said.
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Fiber-optics is another vulnerability that is expected to be cut off when a disastrous earthquake hits the San Andreas fault.
“Two-thirds of the connectivity from Los Angeles to the rest of the world go through fiber-optic cables crossing the San Andreas fault,” Jones explained. “So we expect at the time of the earthquake when the fault moves, we will break these fiber-optic cables and two-thirds of the data capacity between L.A. and everyone else will disappear,” she said.
Natural gas pipelines also cross the San Andreas fault, so gas for cooking and heating is expected to be in short supply.
And the aging water pipes in L.A., which seem to break with great regularity even without an earthquake, are not expected to stand-up well when the big earthquake hits.
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Much of the high-tech damage could hinder the recovery effort in the weeks and months after the earthquake, according to Dr. Jones, so getting Southern California back on its feet could be a wrenching process.
“The world wide web wasn’t in existence at the time of the Northridge earthquake,” she said. “Right now think of how much both your personal life, but also our economic system, depends on having cell phone communications and internet connectivity.”
There’s more at the link.
All the elements she mentions are worthy of urgent consideration.
- If your family emergency plan involves coordinating movements and rendezvous points via cellphone, what happens to your plan if the cellphone network goes down?
- If you’ve accumulated a decent stash of emergency supplies, but your home is too badly damaged to safely enter it to retrieve them, what will you do then?
- What if you can’t get to your home at all, thanks to damaged or blocked streets?
- What if communication is an essential part of your job? Your home and work locations might have survived the earthquake, but you can no longer communicate with your clients. There goes your job and income stream, right there.
It’s useful to think about these things before a disaster happens. For example, I’m preparing a stash of a week’s emergency supplies – food, water, a sweatsuit and a change of underwear for each person, a five-gallon jerrycan of gasoline, etc. – that I’m going to store in my small cargo trailer at the rear of our property. They won’t last as long out there as they will in an air-conditioned house, but they can be rotated and/or replaced fairly cheaply – and if we can’t get into our home to access our main supply cache, we should still be able to get to the trailer. I can see where that might come in very handy . . .