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California Can Learn From Recent Large Earthquakes
Released: 4/8/2011 2:30:00 PM

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
John Bwarie, USGS 1-click interview
Phone: 626-318-5547

Monica Diaz, ARC
Phone: 310-445-2653



In partnership with: American Red Cross
 

LOS ANGELES — A new report issued by the American Red Cross and the U.S. Geological Survey documents the Chilean response and recovery efforts following the Feb. 2010 magnitude 8.8 earthquake and the lessons that California should learn from this disaster.   

"Californians should heed the lessons we learned from Chile, and since then, New Zealand and Japan who have had devastating earthquakes," said Lucy Jones, Chief of the USGS Multi-Hazards Project. "These countries have some of the most advanced earthquake engineering and safety policies in the world, something we can learn from."

The Chilean Earthquake was the sixth largest in recorded history and spurred a team of 20 multidisciplinary experts, organized by the American Red Cross, to visit Chile and investigate how the country faired as well as it did from the large shaking and subsequent tsunami.

"What we saw in Chile underscores the importance of emergency preparedness — from the institutional to the individual level," said Paul Schulz, CEO, American Red Cross, Los Angeles Region.  "People need to be prepared to take care of themselves and their families for three to seven days following a major earthquake, and the Red Cross can give them the tools to do this.''

Similarities in building codes, socioeconomic conditions, and broad extent of the strong shaking make the Chilean earthquake a close analog to the impact of future great earthquakes on California. To withstand and recover from natural and human-caused disasters, it is essential for citizens and communities to work together to anticipate threats, limit effects, and rapidly restore functionality after a crisis.

The report makes a series of recommendations to California on how to both prepare for a large earthquake and what to do once it happens.  These recommendations are:

  1. Conduct comprehensive exercises (including joint government, private sector, nongovernmental organizations, emergency responder, and community exercises) before the event.
  2. Empower people to be prepared.
  3. Educate the population, comprehensively and continually, about what will happen during the event.
  4. Emergency and earthquake professionals should work with representatives of print and broadcast media before the disaster to determine how to best serve the community.
  5. Emergency plans need to be redundant, flexible, and detailed to handle the unexpected in very large disasters.
  6. Recognize the competing personal and professional demands that will be made on staff after a disaster and include this in emergency plans.
  7. Organizations need to plan for nonstructural damage and the potential need to evacuate even without structural damage.
  8. Recognize vulnerabilities in our communications systems and make comprehensive backup plans to avoid complete communication collapse.
  9. Explore mechanisms to encourage building owners to adhere rigorously to existing building codes.
  1. Collect all possible data about each disaster when it happens.

For more information, please refer to USGS Open-File Report 2011-1053 on the 2010 Chilean Earthquake and Tsunami Response.

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For disaster preparedness information, please visit www.preparela.org or www.redcross.org.


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