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Millions of Southland residents took part in a wide- scale annual earthquake-preparedness drill Thursday, following the standard directive to “drop, cover and hold on” for the “Great California ShakeOut.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti was among those taking part in the drill, crawling under a desk with KNX Newsradio anchor Charles Feldman while taking part in the station’s “Ask the Mayor” segment.

“Funny seeing you down here,” Feldman told the mayor as the pair crawled under a desk at the station. Garcetti and Feldman shared a laugh as they crouched under the desk and discussed the need for residents to be prepared for a major shaker.

“People get complacent, they think, ‘Oh I know what to do in an earthquake,’ and they don’t,” Garcetti told Feldman while under the table. “There’s a lot of myths out there. For instance, stand in the doorway. Don’t do that. Folks that are right now at work, get your colleagues, get under a desk, cover your head and hold onto something like the leg of a table, and be ready, because things that are falling can kill you.”

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, more than 40 million people from 60 countries around the world registered to take part in today’s earthquake drills.

In Los Angeles County, nearly 3.5 million people  registered to take part in the “ShakeOut.” About 10.4 million people registered to take part in the drill statewide, including nearly 1 million in Orange County, according to ShakeOut.org.

At 10:15 a.m., participants were instructed to “drop” to the ground, take “cover” under a desk, table or other sturdy surface and “hold on” for 60 seconds, as if a major earthquake were occurring.

Participants were also asked to look around during the drill and envision what might be occurring in an actual quake — what objects might be falling, what damage could be occurring and will there be a way to escape the area afterward.

U.S. Geological Survey officials said that people who are outdoors during a quake should move to a “clear and open” area, avoiding power lines, trees, signs, buildings and other items that can fall. Motorists should pull to the side of the road and set the parking brake — but not beneath bridges, power lines or traffic signs.

“All Californians know that we live in earthquake country, but many of us have not experienced a damaging earthquake, such as young people or those that have moved to the region in recent years,” according to ShakeOut.org. “Understanding the risks and preparing to survive and recover can help keep your family safe.”

The website also notes that while the San Andreas fault could trigger large-scale earthquakes, up to magnitude-8, “there are over 100 other active faults in the region that can produce smaller earthquakes like the 1995 Northridge earthquake. If you live in Southern California, one of more of these faults is probably near you.”

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, some 2,000 people would die, tens of thousands would be injured and more than $200 billion in damage would result from a magnitude-7.8 or larger quake, which would have 50 times the intensity of the Jan. 17, 1994, Northridge earthquake.

Hundreds of aftershocks would follow, a few of them nearly as big as the original event, according to the USGS.

Californians should be prepared to be self-sufficient for 72 hours following an earthquake or other major disaster, officials say. That includes having a first-aid kit, medications, food and enough water for each member of a household to drink one gallon per day for at least 72 hours, according to local and state officials.

Homeowners and renters should also know how to turn off the gas in their house or apartment in case of leaks.

Government workers and students were also among those taking part in the drill.

Garcetti on Friday signed into law the nation’s strongest earthquake safety rules, under which property owners in Los Angeles will be required to make seismic retrofits on more than 10,000 older buildings considered vulnerable during major shakers.

The requirement affects as many as 13,500 wood-framed, “soft-story” buildings with weak lower floors, such as multi-story apartments with tuck- under parking spaces, and an estimated 1,500 brittle concrete buildings.

Soft-story building owners will have up to seven years to comply with the mandate after being issued retrofit orders from the city, while owners of the concrete buildings will have up to 25 years.

The mandate targets buildings that were constructed prior to the enactment of seismic building standards, which include pre-1978 soft-story buildings and concrete buildings with permits dating back to before Jan. 13, 1977.

Garcetti told KNX during the “Ask the Mayor” segment that the retrofit law was developed in conjunction with building owners.

“Overwhelmingly, the associations and the folks who own buildings know that this is good, this is better than losing their building and killing people who either live or work in their buildings,” he told the station. “… The buildings that we saw collapse in 1994, those kind of ‘soft-story’ apartments have to be retrofitted in the next seven years, so you have a year to assess, a year to take out the permits and five years to build. And that cost actually isn’t too much. It’ll be probably something shared from the landlord and from the tenants.”

He said the city is exploring a variety of tax credits or refunds to help share the costs of retrofitting.

“This is something I wasn’t willing to keep my head in the sand, or under the table,” he joked.

—City News Service

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