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Earthquake Awareness
Old 09-22-2017, 02:18 PM   #1
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Earthquake Awareness

The recent destructive quakes in Mexico have focused US west coast attention on the chances for big quakes here. I think that Japan and California and Chile have very progressive earthquake aware building codes. and Chile has had some pretty big quakes recently that have demonstrated that these stringent codes make a very large difference.

There is recent controversy here in Seattle, with California and to some extent Portland mandating earthquake aware retrofits to make buildings safer, but Seattle is lagging behind. Old west coast cities like Seattle have a fair number of unreinforced masonry buildings (URM). It seems that the biggest risks here are from 2 different things, and mainly affect two different groups. External masonry like parapets falling on people in the sidewalk or street, and building collapse caused by unreinforced masonry bearing walls.

Here there is real resistance by building owners to retrofit expenses that may need hard to get rent increases to justify, especially in older apartment buildings.

I live in an area built fairly close to bed rock, (no fill) in a low rise 1980s wood frame with stucco cladding that while not quite ideal, is not half bad. My GF lives in a true high rise building with pilings and a welded steel frame with cast concrete panels. My son who still lives here lives in a new frame house, but works in a old downtown brick building, which however has apparently been reinforced to code earthquake standards.

I had friends who had narrow escapes in the 1971 San Fernando quake in LA. I lived at the beach, and felt heavy shaking, but very minor damage to my duplex.

I am in favor of acting to increase earthquake survival and shortening recovery time. I think any masonry that might kill people walking below should have mandated remediation. I might be less aware if I had not almost been taken out by a damn steel sign that came down during an autumn storm as I was walking below. Missed me by 5 feet.

Ha
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Old 09-22-2017, 03:20 PM   #2
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East Coaster here. How do they reinforce old buildings? Some kind of external banding or sheathing? Adding pilings under buildings?
I can't imagine what you have to go through. Only one we had here felt like the floor rolled, a little blip.
My great uncle and his wife use to teach at Pepperdine. My great uncle was a little goofy and decided that California was going to fall into the ocean after a big quake. They moved to Arizona and taught at Embry-Riddle for quite a few years.
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Old 09-22-2017, 03:39 PM   #3
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Serious policy questions, Ha.

You seem to be well situated.

For ourselves, we are careful where we live (high water, tornados, hurricanes, crime, landslides, crazy people). Although we lived on high ground in suburban Houston, we are glad we ain't there now. Same for Florida earlier. I turned down a good job in Burmingham after they told me it was the tornado capital of the US.

I can take care of us. I can't take care of Seattle and Portland, too.

Cheers,

Old Ed
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Old 09-22-2017, 04:10 PM   #4
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I experienced a 7.1 quake in January of last year in Anchorage. Fortunately I was in a solid old stone building that shrugged it off, but there was a high rise steel/glass hotel half a block away that had its occupants scared out of their wits. Saw some of them running frantically away from the hotel in their pajamas (or less).

Even in my hotel, I've never experienced so much movement and I used to live in Los Angeles where mild quakes were common.

It was interesting that by far the best source of information as to what was happening at the time was Twitter.
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Old 09-22-2017, 04:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haha View Post
.........
I am in favor of acting to increase earthquake survival and shortening recovery time. I think any masonry that might kill people walking below should have mandated remediation. I might be less aware if I had not almost been taken out by a damn steel sign that came down during an autumn storm as I was walking below. Missed me by 5 feet.

Ha
I think the "rub" is what do folks do that are homeowners that are house poor?
When they changed the home deductibles from a flat $1,000 per incident. My elderly mother had a 5 % hurricane deductible, she would have had to sell her house to pay that.

Maybe a large sign on her front stoop, Saying "WARNING" in case of earthquake, stay away from my house, Im a 90 year old widow that didnt reinforce my walls, hahahah.
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Old 09-22-2017, 04:37 PM   #6
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I have been in quite a few earthquakes when living in other locations, like Northern California, but none here in Louisiana that I know of. We get hurricanes instead.

At least with hurricanes, we get a little advance notice! With earthquakes, you never know when one might occur. So, it's probably best for the construction industry to build with that in mind.

If I lived on the West Coast, I'd choose my community with that in mind also (if possible). I'd look for one with a strict earthquake building code, and mostly newer buildings that were built to that code. It sounds difficult for an older city to retrofit all buildings like that, depending on the expense of course.
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Old 09-22-2017, 05:50 PM   #7
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Its like Haha said, your out walking little Fifi, and your strolling along with your coffee, and Bam, mini meteors are beaning you in the head from the buildings that are falling apart.
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Old 09-22-2017, 07:29 PM   #8
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Just over 20 years ago, when I lived on Salt Spring Island, B.C., there was a quake off Anacortes, WA.......it felt as if someone had come down our driveway and hit the carport.

The next day there was a huge thump and all my carefully stacked firewood rolled down the hill.
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Old 09-22-2017, 11:11 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Nemo2 View Post
Just over 20 years ago, when I lived on Salt Spring Island, B.C., there was a quake off Anacortes, WA.......it felt as if someone had come down our driveway and hit the carport.

The next day there was a huge thump and all my carefully stacked firewood rolled down the hill.
Did you file a claim with FEMA to get it restacked?
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Old 09-22-2017, 11:33 PM   #10
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I can easily imagine earthquake remediation would cost 20% of the value of a house or building possibly 30%.
I bet a lot of folks cannot afford it.
Landlords would have to be allowed to raise rents, kicking out tenants who can't pay a 30% increase.

But none of this solves much, as the West coast has no warning system, unlike Japan and Mexico, which had about a 45 second warning.
Basically there are sensors in certain spots and when they detect earthquake, it radios the warning, and sirens go off. All this is at most 1 min before the big shaking happens, so folks need to drop their coffee and run.
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Old 09-23-2017, 07:15 AM   #11
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Here is video from Mexico City of when the warning alarms went off:

https://twitter.com/FreedomSocietyX/...087361/video/1
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Old 09-23-2017, 08:36 AM   #12
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Spent around fourteen years as techie in Seismology. Always made sure to avoid living in areas prone to large earthquakes. SW PA works very well to avoid natural disasters, especially earthquakes.

BTW a joke in seismology used to be, If you want to find a seismic fault line, just look for a nuclear power plant.
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