Bay Area quake: A ticking time bomb

May 12, 2008 6:37:41 PM PDT
Monday's quake did not damage any of the venues being built for the Beijing Olympics in August, but can you imagine what a quake of that size would do if it struck the Bay Area?

The Loma Prieta quake of 1989 was 6.9, but the one in China on Monday was 7.9.

A USGS Google Map shows where the massive 7.9 quake hit in China. What it doesn't show is the thousands feared dead and injured.

Tom Brocher is a seismologist with the USGS and notes, those who felt the Loma Prieta quake, may find it hard to believe the power in Monday's quake.

"So, even though it was a big earthquake and did a lot of damage in the Bay Area, it was 30 times smaller than the earthquake we had today in China," says Brocher.

An earthquake the size of China's would decimate the Bay Area's infrastructure, according to San Jose's Emergency Services director Kimberly Shunk.

"Roads, bridges, tunnels and overpasses may be damaged or collapsed. We may be without gas, electricity or water for a very long period of time," says Shunk.

The 1989 Loma Prieta temblor strained Bay Area resources 20 years ago. Shunk says, with a 7.9 quake, our medical and emergency services first responders would be overwhelmed.

"Even if all ten Bay Area counties were working together, we would still need help from the outside," says Shunk.

According to the Office of Emergency Services in the San Jose, in the event of a major earthquake in the Bay Area, you should be prepared to be your own first responder.

You should have water food and other emergency supplies to last you at least 72 hours while waiting for help.

The destruction in China should get the attention of everyone in the Bay Area, according Tom Brocher.

"In the Bay Area, we need to get ready for a repeat of the 1868 Hayward quake."

Brocher says, if history is any judge, our next quake is coming very soon here along the 37 mile long Hayward fault.

"Our information is telling us that on average, the past five earthquakes on the Hayward Fault have been 140 years apart."

The last major quake on the Hayward Fault was 140 years ago this October.


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