The first phase comes from a rupture on the San Andreas Fault, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake on the southernmost section. The surface rupture seriously damages roads, railroads and utilities across the fault. Damage is done to Interstate 10 in Coachella Valley and San Gorgonio Pass. Interstate 15 in Cajon Pass along with several other highways will be damaged as well.
Secondary hazards will include landslides, liquefaction and tsunamis. Ten thousand to 100,000 landslides in the San Gabriel Mountains will create havoc.
And then there will be aftershocks that will weaken structures even more. It is estimated that fellow victims will carry out 95% of rescues from downed buildings.
This is part of the scenario described by the U.S. Geologic Society in its ShakeOut program, constructed by a panel of scientists that allows emergency services to prepare for the next earthquake.
“It is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when,’” said Harry Leon, member of the Crescenta Valley Outreach Committee, CV Armenian Community and Youth Center. Getting ready for the “big one” is the theme of an event sponsored by the center on Jan. 22.
Leon said the area is overdue for a large earthquake and the Outreach Committee wants the community to be ready.
The southern San Andreas Fault generates earthquakes the size of the ShakeOut on average every 150 years; however, it has been 300 years since a rupture has occurred. Southern California is overdue.
The Outreach Committee has gathered emergency response teams to discuss how to get ready for the big one. Members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept., Glendale Police Dept., Crescenta Valley Fire Safe Council and CERT – Community Emergency Response Team – will speak to the audience about what to expect when disaster hits.
“We are going to see how to prepare the citizens of our community,” Leon said.
“We want people to come away with the [knowledge] police and fire will not be there [immediately],” said Paul Dutton, captain of CERT. “They need to be prepared to camp at their home for two to seven days. … [Residents] may think that when they call 911 they will get a quick response, but that might not be the case.”
Sheriff, fire and other emergency responders will be spread thin. An earthquake like the one created in the USGS scenario will not affect one area but most of Southern California. Emergency responders will assess the most serious, leaving those with issues like power outages to hold up on their own.
“Last year during our windstorms there were residents who didn’t have power for up to seven days,” Dutton said. “And it has been cold [these last few days.] Imagine not having power.”
Leon added it is important to let community members know what they can do to get ready for the big one.
“Everyone is invited,” he said.
The event is on Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. at the CV Armenian Community and Youth Center at 2633 Honolulu Ave. For more information, call (818) 464-5870.