Earthquake preparedness - party like it's 1994

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As California continues to shake (about 50 quakes today, nothing under 2.5 Mag and very very shallow), Commander Zero has some words of advice regarding his own experiences with the 1994 Northridge quake (not mentioning the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, a stronger one; also in an urban setting):

California rolls
California shimmied like a little hula figurine on the dashboard. I have virtually no experience with earthquakes except for that one time I was flat on my bed in a hospital, with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel, and we had the strongest earthquake in 60 years. Its a very queer feeling when something as ‘rock solid’ as the ground beneath you suddenly becomes Jell-o. Its like watching the sun set in the north, or seeing water flow uphill…your brain just cannot comprehend it.

I’ll be cruising the usual discussion boards looking at peoples AARs. It is always good to learn at other peoples expense. Still trying to figure out how the California politicians will blame this on Trump…

Moral of the story: It happens. You’re not wasting your time and money by being ready for it. It DOES happen.

AAR is an After Action Report - people involved in preparedness and communication always debrief after whether it's a training exercise or the real thing. This is where you find the flaws in your system and work to improve them for the next time. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Raconteur Report takes this and offers their own précis:


    1. No one is coming to help you. YOYO. Plan accordingly.
    2. 72 hours of supplies? AHAHAHAHAHAHA.  Try 14-30 days, minimum. Yes, really. IMHO, if you're not ready for 60 days totally self-sustained, you're selling yourself short.
    3. Northridge utilities/situation overview:
      • Power: Nada. For 11 days. They weren't even sure they could reboot an entire city from scratch when they flipped the switches, but it worked. That time.
      • Water: Boil water orders for 30+ days, thousands of breaks in water mains (18" from sewer mains, btw). 25 years later and L.A. still hasn't found and fixed them all. (Doubt me? Google "L.A. sinkholes" since 1994-yesterday. The prosecution rests, your Honor.)
      • Heat: It was sunny the day after, even in January. If this had been cold, wet winter, like anywhere in 49 other states, or half of even this one, we would have started loosing people to exposure within two-three days.
      • Communication: Ha. Pre-cell era. No POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) for a week. Now, >50% of people don't even have landline POTS. (Might want to rethink that clever strategy, kids.) And cell towers have far less capacity, and maybe 24-72 hrs battery back-up. Maybe.
      • ATMs: AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Cash in hand, or do without.
      • Retail business: AHAHAHAHAHA. For two weeks. Only when the power came back on.
      • Transportation grid: Hundreds of normal overpasses condemned.  The I-5 down to one lane in each direction for a month, and 300 yards of 100-foot-tall overpass gone.
      • Gasoline: Did I mention there was no power for 11 days??  You had the gas you had, until it ran out, or you drove 50 miles away to fill a tank, out of the affected area. So, imagine that was not possible, or a lot farther away than 50 miles.  And remember, hundreds of freeway overpasses were out.
      • General destruction: they were still pulling bodies and victims out of rubble two days later, and than was with less than 100 actual rescues or fatalities, and everyone within 200 miles helping out.  Now imagine 1000, or 10,000 victims.

Most of the preparedness strategies are dead simple - buy a few extra cans of food when you go grocery shopping. Save milk/juice containers and refill them with water and a drop of Clorox. Go here and spend about two months, a few hours a week, memorizing the questions and answers and become a licensed amateur radio operator. You can buy a really decent transceiver kit for under $50 (this has a much better antenna, an additional battery and the programming cable - you use free software to set up for your local frequencies instead of having to use the internal keypad). Make sure you have some books and a radio to keep you occupied as well as a source of light and maybe something to heat your food. Do a little bit of this every week and you will be set sooner than you realize it.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on July 8, 2019 8:34 PM.

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