Local officials, emergency responders, health-care providers and geologists gathered at a series of events Thursday to mark the 25th anniversary of the devastating 1994 Northridge earthquake.
The quake struck at 4:31 a.m. Jan. 17, 1994, with a magnitude of 6.7. The temblor resulted in 57 deaths, left more than 5,000 injured and caused more than $20 billion in property damage.
Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield, Los Angeles Deputy Mayor for Homeland Security and Public Safety Jeff Gorell, and Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, were among the dignitaries who gathered at Cal State Northridge for a discussion on the lessons learned in the aftermath of the quake, as well as state and local efforts to improve earthquake preparedness.
Blumenfield, noting President Donald Trump’s threat to withhold federal relief funds from victims of the recent California wildfires and the shortcomings of the response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, spoke of the importance of being ready on the local level for a disaster.
“We can’t count on the federal government to come rushing to our aid. We’re going to rely on that as much as we can, but we need to be resilient here,” Blumenfield said.
Gorell spoke in place of Mayor Eric Garcetti, who had been scheduled to attend. He touted the city’s earthquake retrofit program, which was created in 2015 and requires retrofitting on thousands of buildings in the city.
“Today more than 1,500 soft-story buildings have been retrofitted. Another 3,301 have had permits issued to do the same,” Gorell said. “And by 2024, we will see all 12,865 of these buildings retrofitted. Even today, we have 21,000 households safer today than when these earthquake retrofit ordinances were established”.
Gorell also highlighted the recent launch of ShakeAlertLA, the nation’s first publicly available earthquake early warning mobile application.
The app is designed to send a warning to anyone who has downloaded it and is within Los Angeles County when sensors placed by the U.S. Geological Survey detect that an earthquake of magnitude 5.0 or greater is striking.
“We encourage all Angelenos, all Northridge students, and everyone in Los Angeles County to take the few seconds to download ShakeAlertLA on your iPhone or your Google-powered device, because those few seconds can save your life if you are able to receive an early warning,” Gorell said.
CSUN President Dianne Harrison, geologist and earthquake expert Lucy Jones, and Glenn Pomeroy, CEO of the California Earthquake Authority, also spoke at the event.
“The recovery of Northridge took years. Our resolve to be in a better position next time around must take years, but we need to start, we need to start now,” Pomeroy said.
Hertzberg sid he and other state legislators are working to expand their ability to retrofit homes by creating a $1 billion program through refinancing and restructuring the California Earthquake Authority.
According to the earthquake authority, only about 13 percent of Californians who have residential insurance also have earthquake insurance.
Blumenfield also took part in a separate commemoration event earlier in the day at his district office in Reseda, where the councilman and residents reflected on the impact of the quake and the importance of being prepared for a major disaster. Los Angeles Fire Department search-and-rescue equipment were on display at the event.
Members of the city’s Community Emergency Response Teams also attended.
On Thursday night, during a performance at the Grammy Museum in downtown Los Angeles, R&B singer Thelma Houston will be presented with a replacement Grammy Award, because the one she received for her song “Don’t Leave Me This Way” was broken during the Northridge quake.
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