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Posted: 4/17/2006 6:49:09 AM EST
Study: Bay Area Quake Would Be Staggering
By TERENCE CHEA
Associated Press Writer

SAN FRANCISCO - If an earthquake like the one that devastated the city in 1906 struck today, the toll would be staggering: tens of thousands of buildings damaged and hundreds of people dead, according to a new study.

The report released Monday calculated that a repeat of that 7.9-magnitude temblor would cause 1,800 to 3,400 deaths, damage more than 90,000 buildings, displace as many as 250,000 households and result in $150 billion in damage.

"We already witnessed the effect of the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people from last year's hurricanes," said Bill Ellsworth, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park. "It would have huge social and economic effects on the entire country."

The study, "When the Big One Strikes Again," was released the day before the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. It was prepared for what is being billed as the biggest earthquake conference ever.

The three-day 100th Anniversary Earthquake Conference, starting Tuesday in San Francisco, was expected to draw more than 2,500 scientists, engineers, government officials and emergency response professionals. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other politicians were scheduled to speak.

The conference is one of a long list of events being held around the Bay Area to commemorate the 1906 quake and promote earthquake preparedness. On Tuesday, survivors will lay wreaths at Lotta's Fountain in downtown San Francisco to mark the moment the temblor struck shortly after 5 a.m. 100 years ago.

The latest report, prepared by the engineering firm Charles Kircher & Associates in Mountain View, was commissioned by the earthquake conference's organizers: the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, Seismological Society of America and California Governor's Office of Emergency Services.

Using computer models, the study estimated how a 1906-size earthquake would impact today's nine-county San Francisco Bay area, where the population has mushroomed to more than 7 million people.

The report found that a 7.9-magnitude quake would cause up to $34 billion in building-related losses in San Francisco, $28 billion in Santa Clara County, $26 billion in San Mateo County and $15 billion in Alameda County.

Most of the deaths would result from the collapse of old buildings made with unreinforced masonry or concrete, or structures not tied to their foundations, according to the report. Structures built after the 1970s are generally considered safe.

"We need to recognize the buildings that are the most dangerous and would cause the most loss of life," said conference chairman Chris Poland, chief executive officer at Degenkolb Engineers in San Francisco. "They need to be identified, then strengthened or replaced."

Estimates of the death toll from the 1906 quake and fire range from 478 to 6,000. In addition, 28,000 of San Francisco's 53,000 buildings were destroyed; 225,000 of San Francisco's nearly 400,000 residents were left homeless and estimated property damage was the equivalent of $8.2 billion in today's dollars.

Experts said the Bay Area has made a lot of progress strengthening buildings, roads and bridges since the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, but the study's findings indicate the region still has a lot of work to do.

"The Bay Area is probably better prepared than most urban areas for a natural disaster," Poland said. "But it's not prepared enough."

Link Posted: 4/17/2006 7:18:00 AM EST
Is this really news to anyone?
Link Posted: 4/17/2006 7:31:01 AM EST
They have quakes in the PRK?
Link Posted: 4/17/2006 7:54:49 AM EST
Just how do they come to these estimates? I mean if you went out and got a list of materials today for a new home for example next week it would be more and next month more yet. So how I see it the figures they give are out of date before they can print it. How do they figure in the deaths and building destruction also? I'm not bashing it nor am I arguing it I was just curious how they arrive at their conclusions?
Link Posted: 4/17/2006 8:12:25 AM EST
[Last Edit: 4/17/2006 8:13:35 AM EST by Da_Bunny]

Originally Posted By mstennes:
Just how do they come to these estimates? I mean if you went out and got a list of materials today for a new home for example next week it would be more and next month more yet. So how I see it the figures they give are out of date before they can print it. How do they figure in the deaths and building destruction also? I'm not bashing it nor am I arguing it I was just curious how they arrive at their conclusions?



Just guessing, but I'd imagine they use assessed real values for buildings and infrastructure. Of course, the cost of replacement will nearly always be higher than any value used in an estimate. After such an event, new codes will be written based on the effects of the worst case, forcing upgrades to any new construction. Over the several years that would be required to rebuild, costs would go up even further.

In Seattle, vast areas of post WWII construction, with it's asbestos siding, would have to be replaced, with developers trying to squeeze multi-family housing into areas that currently have single family homes. Low income housing would be required with any re-developing of the affected neighborhoods.

The higher the population density, the higher the tax revenues, so the city government would definately want to have a say in any re-building.
Link Posted: 4/17/2006 11:33:55 AM EST
Sounds kinda like the issues discussed before Katrina hit New Orleans. All of us down there knew those dykes were no good for a long time.
Link Posted: 4/17/2006 11:45:44 AM EST

Originally Posted By 9Millie:
All of us down there knew those dykes were no good for a long time.



I know there's a San Francisco or Dianne Feinstein joke in there somewhere...
Link Posted: 4/17/2006 12:20:22 PM EST

Originally Posted By Boomer:

Originally Posted By 9Millie:
All of us down there knew those dykes were no good for a long time.



I know there's a San Francisco or Dianne Feinstein joke in there somewhere...



Link Posted: 4/17/2006 5:47:45 PM EST
This is how federal money is gotten.
Link Posted: 4/17/2006 5:53:46 PM EST

Originally Posted By EOP:
This is how federal money is gotten.




FEMA Debit cards

Link Posted: 4/17/2006 8:46:24 PM EST
I think I can just barely see the signature there....John Q. Public
Link Posted: 4/17/2006 9:09:56 PM EST
Don't forget, we have a shyte load of tectonic plates right under us in the puget sound & I think we kinda corner the market in volcanos as well... If my memory serves, we have a lot more quakes that CA does... and are due for a biggun more than they
Link Posted: 4/18/2006 7:37:41 AM EST
[Last Edit: 4/18/2006 7:43:37 AM EST by Da_Bunny]

Originally Posted By Rune75:
Don't forget, we have a shyte load of tectonic plates right under us in the puget sound & I think we kinda corner the market in volcanos as well... If my memory serves, we have a lot more quakes that CA does... and are due for a biggun more than they



We have five active volcanos in WA; Mt. Baker, Glacier Peak, Mt. Rainier, St. Helens and Mt. Adams, as well as being tucked in between two snowy mountain ranges, the Cascades and the Olympics. A lot of outdoor types think this place is paradise.

It really is pretty fantastic. If you live a sedate, urban life, it's not for the lack of opportunity.

Whenever you talk about vertical ground, there is a potential for things to fall down, slide, settle or generally re-arrange themselves. There is a lot of that around here, along with dozens of lakes, rivers and hundreds of streams that can all assert the forces of nature in abundance.

It makes life interesting.


Sounds kinda like the issues discussed before Katrina hit New Orleans. All of us down there knew those dykes were no good for a long time.


I liked the story of how they dredged the canals so the gambling boats could travel into the heart of the city. When the hurricane hit, the deeper canals allowed bigger waves to travel deeper into the city and pound on the levee walls that simpy weren't built to take the abuse.

The city was too busy skimming cash to pay any attention to the problem.
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