Is the East Bay prepared for a big quake?

April 15, 2008 10:15:53 AM PDT
Try as they might, scientists have been unable to predict when or where the next earthquake will happen.

Northern California's biggest quake hazard is the Hayward Fault, which runs through some heavily populated areas of the East Bay. Chances of a big quake there were put at 31 percent.

The USGS is setting the odds along the Hayward Fault at 31 percent, and UC Berkeley says that just a few years ago they were told it was 27 percent.

The numbers seem to be inching upwards and that raises the question, how prepared is the East Bay?

"In the event of an earthquake, this would be the hub, the center where everyone would come," said Margo Bennett from U.C. Berkeley Police.

If there's an earthquake, the furniture would be moved out of the conference room in Barrows Hall at UC Berkeley. The cabinets are crammed with emergency supplies to make this command central.

"We take it as real. We know if the Hayward fault goes, it's a real challenge for us and as a result we trained over 450 people on the campus," said Bennett.

The building is hardwired with emergency generators down the hall. The campus radio station, KALX, would broadcast directives to the UC Berkeley campus, a community of 50,000 people.

There are residence halls packed with students and there are laboratories to protect.

Student reaction to the latest data on the Hayward Fault depends on where you come from.

"Some of the residence halls, I don't know, kids are terrified of the whole earthquake possibility, cause most of them aren't from around here, especially International house," said UC Berkeley student Shireen Khambatta.

"We talk about it all the time. I live right up by the stadium. It's an issue we worry about and try to be prepared for it," said UC Berkeley student Kent Yamane.

"What have you and friends actually done to prepare besides just talk about it?" asked ABC7's Leslie Brinkley.

"I haven't actually done anything," said Yamane.

And that's the problem say officials in Oakland -- getting people motivated to be self sufficient if a quake hits home.

"We can't do it all. We don't have enough emergency responders, we don't have enough police, fire and emergency personnel to take on a Hayward fault scenario," said Oakland Director of Emergency Services Renee Domingo.

A state of the art central command for the city of Oakland in case of an earthquake is housed in a downtown fire station. They say homeland security funds helped them beef up emergency preparedness for earthquakes.

"There is a level of urgency you feel when you hear the statistics going up. But it's a process. Preparedness is an ongoing thing and I don't believe anyone can tell you they're 100 percent prepared," said Domingo.

In order for a community to be truly prepared, it means that all individuals in that community do have to look at being self reliant in terms of food and water supplies in case of a quake.

UC has spent $500 million dollars retrofitting the 75 percent of buildings on the campus that needed retrofitting and the rest is still a work in progress.


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