Are You Ready For The Big One?
I suspect some of you have found it curious, as I have, that so many water mains have been breaking in the Los Angeles area recently. This image shows the locations of the breaks from September 1, 2009 until September 29, 2009. Many more have occurred since that date. If you wish to see the actual interactive map with locations and dates click HERE.
A PRECURSOR TO "THE BIG ONE"?
The other day, as I was peacefully enjoying my lunch at a favorite local hangout, a good friend and neighbor stopped by my table, plunked down in a chair and asked me if I knew what all the water main breaks means? It was a kind of out-of-the-blue question, so I rocked back and asked him what he was getting at. So, he told me that it is a precursor of The Big One! His view is that those brittle, mostly older, water mains are inflexible segments of the infrastructure that will break rather than bend when the earth surrounding them begins to apply pressure.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
He and I have never spoken about the possibility of a big earthquake before, so I just let him present his theory and, after a little chat, he excused himself and left me to ponder the possibilities.
ACTIVE FAULT CORRELATION?
I found that link above, then went looking for earthquake fault maps, to see if there might be some kind of correlation - and got more than a little nervous once I found them. You can view one of them HERE, on this interactive map, which gives you the fault names as you pass your cursor over each fault line.
HOLLYWOOD AS THE EPICENTER?
It seems that most of those breaks shown on the image above are clustered around the area where the Whittier Fault approaches the Raymond Fault, which extends from right to left on that map toward the ocean, where it adjoins the Santa Monica Fault. If you use Hollywood as the epicenter, at least five million people live and/or work within a 10 mile radius of that point.
MY EARLIER SPECULATION
Several years ago, following Hurricane Katrina, I wrote an essay speculating about the impact of an 8.3 quake along the Newport-Inglewood Fault, which runs basically from LAX through Long Beach, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach before it joins the Rose Canyon Fault and turns offshore near Dana Point. I speculated about the staggering loss of life and property should that happen. You can read that essay HERE.
If a similar magnitude quake were to hit with Hollywood as the epicenter the losses would make my earlier estimation seem minuscule.
ARE WE PREPARED?
All of this got me thinking again about our earthquake preparedness, or rather, our lack thereof. Many of us talk about being prepared for a natural disaster, earthquakes being the most likely, but seldom do anything about it. We know we should have food, water and emergency supplies staged in our homes and cars, but don't take the time to collect them. I guess we're just assuming that we will never be affected by such an event - kind of like those hundreds of thousands of folks in the far Pacific regions who have lost their lives and/or all their worldly possessions to the effects of a Tsunami.
A TERRIFIC RESOURCE
You can read a recently-updated Emergency Preparedness Handbook prepared by the Los Angeles City Fire Department HERE. It's a great resource, easy to read and gives you a good guidebook to follow in your own earthquake preparedness exercise. I'm not going to attempt to echo all the good advice contained within that booklet, but certainly do encourage you to look through it and follow the information provided.
GET READY - JUST IN CASE
It is estimated that each of us may be "on our own" for upwards of a week following a natural disaster - an earthquake, for example. You will recall the unusual broken water main at the intersection of Via Lido and Newport Boulevard a couple weeks ago. Well, that site is directly astride the Newport-Inglewood Fault!
USE KATRINA AND NEW ORLEANS AS MOTIVATION
With the images of those poor folks in New Orleans, stranded in the Louisiana Superdome following Hurricane Katrina - with rotting corpses and no food or water - still in my mind, I encourage you all to get your family prepared - just in case. The following brief video from the Superdome during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina may provide you some motivation.