California Earthquake the Next Katrina?
I've been out of commission for a while, but this is something on my list...
A 2001 memo by FEMA predicted three most likely catastrophes to hit the United States. One was a terror attack on New York City, second was a super-strength hurricane hitting New Orleans. The third was a major earthquake on the San Andreas fault.
That doesn't seem promising for Southern California, which may not be ready. Here's what the article warns:
In Los Angeles, all but one of 8,700 unreinforced masonry buildings — considered the most likely to collapse in a major quake — have been retrofitted or demolished. The state spent billions after the 1994 Northridge quake to retrofit more than 2,100 freeway overpasses, reporting this week that only a handful remain unreinforced.And then there's this problem:
Despite these improvements, however, officials believe that a major temblor could cause the level of destruction and disruption seen over the last week on the Gulf Coast.
More than 900 hospital buildings that state officials have identified as needing either retrofitting or total replacement have yet to receive them, and the state recently agreed to five-year extensions to hospitals that can't meet the 2008 deadline to make the fixes. More than 7,000 school buildings across the state would also be vulnerable during a huge temblor, a state study found, though there is no firm timetable for upgrading the structures.
All this makes Idaho seem awfully inviting. Except for the winters and the homophobes.
There are about 40,000 structures in California made from "non-ductile reinforced concrete," a rigid substance susceptible to cracking. This was a common construction ingredient for office buildings in the 1950s and '60s, before the state instituted stricter standards. Few such structures have been seismically retrofitted, officials said.