Danger in California

This post is a prelude to last weeks post describing why exactly California needs a earthquake plan booklet.The majority of earthquakes that occur in the U.S happen on the west coast. California is extremely vulnerable to earthquakes. The USGS declares there are at least nine faults just in Southern California that can cause over a billion dollars in property damage. Places such as San Francisco have a odd geography for a large city. Many of San Francisco’s houses are built on steep hills. No matter what safety precautions are taken to build these buildings, there is still going to be large amounts of damages done. This is not only scary because a large earthquake could destroy a large part of a major city, but also because the poor structures could crumble with their owners still in them. Another threatening aspect is that the earthquake may be the least scary part about the occurrence. The aftermath from the earthquake could be the most dangerous and damaging part of the whole occurrence. If a large quake like the one in 1906 were to happen again it is likely that it would cause landslides, uncontrollable fires, and toxic gas releases. In San Francisco, the landslides may not only be falling rocks and clay, but sliding buildings and cars. In 1906 there were reported to be over 50 fires in the highly populated areas of San Francisco after the quake. The fires were untamable due to the ruptured water lines from the quake. Most of the fires were caused by lanterns that had fallen. Today, we have circuit wires that would snap and ignite building fires. One of San Francisco’s proudest symbols is their beautiful Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge is 1.7 miles long and 220 feet above the bay water below. It helps nearly 40 million people across the bay each year. There has been much advancement made to the bridge to prevent it from collapsing. Perhaps the advancements were made because of its sister bridge the Oakland Bay Bridge collapsing during the 1989 quake. Only one person was killed because of the bridges collapse, though it could have been much worse if more people had been driving across it at that time. Another danger that is often overlooked when talking about earthquakes is the possibility of it causing a tsunami. The San Andreas Fault is located on much of the coast of California. If the fault were to cause a tsunami it would likely be directed out towards the ocean and not the coast. Meaning many boaters of shore could be thrown from their boats because of large waves developed due to the earhtquake.

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