BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – As the Earthquake Advisory from last week expires today, attention turns to the broader picture. Is California prepared for the “big one?”
We’ve seen our fair share of moderate earthquakes in recent memory with a 6.0-magnitude earthquake in Napa Valley just over two years ago (the strongest for that area in over 25 years), causing significant damage. The most recent reminder, of course, was the 2016 Central Italy earthquake measuring 6.2 and causing 298 deaths along with severe damage.
Experts say there are deficiencies in building codes and major gaps that set apart what the codes are actually written, along with the public’s expectations. Codes are written to survive a quake, but buildings may still be uninhabitable or severely damaged. Dr. Kit Miyamoto with Miyamoto International says: “People and societies in countries expect buildings to be usable after a major event; their investment be protected. Your houses and your offices and hospitals must be able to be used again. But that’s not how the code is set up, globally speaking.”
Relatively speaking this requires a small investment into securing infrastructure, according to Dr. Miyamoto. Five percent in new construction and 10 to 15 percent in existing buildings is a small price to pay when considering the potential for catastrophic damage after a major event.