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Earthquake Preparation for Resilience

A look at San Francisco's building resilience plan illustrates the pertinent need to include earthquake preparedness in resiliency planning.
October 13, 2020, 9am PDT | Lee Flannery | @leecflannery
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Earthquake damage from the 1994 Northridge Earthquake in Los Angeles.

Californians are intimately familiar with the threat of earthquakes. But "earthquake risk and the need for community preparedness goes far beyond California," says Adina Solomon.

Earthquake hazard should be a top consideration for cities nationwide in designing and building infrastructure, according to UCLA professor of civil and environmental engineering Scott Brandenberg. "Resilience is not about preventing damage from happening. It's about being ready so that you can recover quickly without significant disruption to society," says Brandenberg. 

To better understand resiliency in the face of high-magnitude earthquakes, Solomon took a look at San Francisco's building resilience plan for what has been seen as a relevant case study. Solomon traces a decade of earthquake preparedness legislation, noting that the costly protection measures may not have been adopted without a government mandate. 

"San Francisco voters also approved a $682.5 million Earthquake Safety and Emergency Response bond in March that reinforces critical infrastructure, such as 911 call centers and high-powered water systems for fire outages. Neighborhood health centers, which are mostly run by the city, are also receiving upgrades such as emergency power through the bond," Solomon writes. 

To date, the coronavirus pandemic has not disrupted the millions in funding for earthquake preparedness, "but that could change as COVID-19 continues to spread across the U.S," reminds Solomon.

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Published on Monday, October 12, 2020 in Smart Cities Dive
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