By Jason KUROSU
The looming possibility of a major earthquake is one that prevails in the minds of many Californians, especially as reminders, however small, of the state’s seismic potential have occurred throughout its history and continue to this day. “The Big One” has been predicted time and time again, a massive earthquake with a magnitude upwards of 8.0 that seismologists say the San Andreas Fault is prepared to unleash. However, exactly when that will be is debatable, as earthquake prediction is an inexact science, in which quakes can be estimated to occur within a window of a few decades, rather than pinpointed to occur on an exact day, or even month or year.
Despite this, preparation for such a quake continues to be an endeavor for Californians, including La Crescenta resident Paul Dutton, who is also chairman of CERT, the Community Emergency Response Team. CERT works to help residents be informed of what to do in the event of a disaster such as an earthquake.
“One thing people often don’t know is that we’re going to be on our own for about seven to 10 days,” said Dutton. “People expect that emergency services will be readily available and they probably won’t be.”
In a CERT seminar from earlier this year, police and other officials spoke about a list of “critical facilities” which they would need to monitor in the wake of an earthquake, such as hospitals and prisons. For this reason, CERT and Dutton emphasize self-reliance.
“The most important thing is having enough water,” said Dutton. “Everyone should ask themselves whether or not they have enough water, because if the Big One hits, over 300,000 people in this area will be without clean water, gas, and a variety of other things they need.”
Dutton also noted the lasting effects of such a quake and that people should prepare for those effects as well as the more immediate ones.
“When the ’94 Northridge quake hit and that section of the 10 freeway was destroyed, the traffic became incredible. Now imagine a quake that levels more than one freeway. It’s going to be chaotic.”
Dutton advocated that residents prepare financially for a quake of that nature.
“The federal government is going to have to step in to help people financially.”
Whatever the case, the San Andreas Fault and earthquakes such as the devastating 2011 Japan earthquake keep Californians in constant reminder of the benefits of preparation.