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1 Million Dead in 30 Seconds: In an increasingly urbanized world, earthquakes threaten...
City Journal ^ | Summer 2011 | Claire Berlinski

Posted on 08/23/2011 9:08:59 PM PDT by neverdem

In an increasingly urbanized world, earthquakes threaten unprepared cities with mass destruction.

Seismic risk mitigation is the greatest urban policy challenge that the world confronts today. If you consider that too strong a claim, try to imagine another way in which bad urban policy could kill a million people in 30 seconds. Yet the politics of earthquakes are rarely discussed, and when discussed, widely misunderstood. Take the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, which released 600 million times the energy of the Hiroshima bomb. The ensuing partial meltdown of the Fukushima reactor prompted international hysteria about nuclear power, but few seemed to realize that a far deadlier threat had been averted. As seismologist Roger Bilham has aptly put it, houses in seismically active zones are the world’s unrecognized weapons of mass destruction—and Japan’s WMDs didn’t go off. Its buildings—at least those that weren’t swept away by the accompanying tsunami, a force of nature against which we are still largely helpless—remained standing, and the people inside survived.

That so few buildings collapsed in the earthquake was a human triumph of the first order. It showed that countries can make great progress in seismic risk mitigation; in the Kobe earthquake of 1995, 200,000 buildings collapsed. But cities around the world seem happy to ignore the earthquake threat—one that is only growing as the cities themselves get bigger and bigger.

In January 2010, an earthquake struck Haiti and destroyed nearly 100,000 buildings. Hospitals, schools, government buildings, jails, hotels, churches, whole neighborhoods—all crumbled, entombing everyone inside. After the quake, I received an e-mail from a scholar of international relations. “It’s odd that earthquakes tend to occur frequently in countries that can least afford them,” she wrote.

You could only write such a sentence if you had never given the matter much thought. It isn’t odd; in fact, it isn’t true. Mother Nature doesn’t have it in for the poor. Rather, earthquakes come to our attention only when they are disasters, and they are disasters only when they strike dense urban areas full of badly made buildings. Last year, there were a number of earthquakes larger than the one that leveled Port-au-Prince, but they didn’t make the news because they happened in the middle of nowhere. California’s Loma Prieta quake, the “World Series earthquake” of 1989, was as big as the one in Port-au-Prince. It killed so few people by comparison—only 63—because San Francisco’s buildings and infrastructure were well designed and strong.

In the wake of the Kobe quake, Japanese engineers took extensive measures to reinforce buildings and infrastructure. They installed rubber blocks under bridges. They spaced buildings farther apart to prevent domino-style tumbling. They introduced extra bracing, base isolation pads, hydraulic shock absorbers. A minute before the March earthquake, automatic seismic monitoring systems sent warnings to Japanese cell phones. Elevators glided obediently to the nearest floor and opened. Surgeries were halted. Videos from Tokyo show skyscrapers swaying gracefully, like cornstalks in the wind. Not one collapsed.

Likewise, the aftershock that struck Christchurch, New Zealand, this past February was deadly, but the astonishing part of that story isn’t that several of the city’s buildings collapsed; it’s that most of them did not. The peak ground acceleration—a measurement of how much the ground shakes—was immense, one of the highest ever recorded. Something like that would have flattened most cities. New Zealand’s strict and well-enforced building codes saved Christchurch from annihilation.

But many of the world’s biggest cities are built more like Port-au-Prince than like Christchurch, and many are at massive seismic risk. Eight of the world’s ten biggest cities are built on fault lines. There is a reason for this: people like to live near water and fertile ground. Over the millennia, seismic activity creates coasts, valleys that channel water, temperate microclimates. The human mind doesn’t work on geologic time, so people rarely ask themselves how exactly these attractions came into being.

The odds of more Haiti-scale destruction are growing by the day because the world is urbanizing. Two hundred years ago, Peking was the only city in the world with a population of a million people. Today, almost 500 cities are that big, and many are much bigger. That explains why the number of earthquake-caused deaths during the first decade of this century (471,015) was more than four times greater than the number during the previous decade, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. National Earthquake Information Center. If the fatality trend continues upward—and it will, because the urbanization trend is continuing upward, as is the trend of housing migrant populations in death traps—it won’t be long before we see a headline announcing 1 million dead in massive earthquake. Indeed, we’ll be lucky not to see it in our lifetimes.

Just as we know how to build airplanes that don’t crash, we know how to construct buildings that don’t collapse. If you want to learn how to do it, grab some marbles and a Teflon baking sheet and follow the sixth-grade lesson plan on Discovery Online. We also know which cities are most at risk: Bogotá, Cairo, Caracas, Dhaka, Islamabad, Istanbul, Jakarta, Karachi, Katmandu, Lima, Manila, Mexico City, New Delhi, Quito, and Tehran. Los Angeles and Tokyo are prime candidates for a major quake, but they will probably survive, since they are well built—though L.A. could do better. New York is at greater risk than people realize. In 2008, researchers at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory published a paper in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America noting, among other things, that the Indian Point nuclear power plant was sitting on top of two active seismic zones. The odds of a quake big enough to cause a Fukushima-like disaster there are small. The odds of a quake big enough to take down houses constructed under pre-1995 building codes are not. If you live in an old building—and particularly if you live near 125th Street, where the fault line runs—you might note that.

So we understand enough about seismology to be sure that certain cities face a high risk of earthquakes with enormous death tolls, and we understand enough about engineering and disaster management to say exactly what should be done to protect the residents of those cities. What we don’t understand—or rather, what we’re seldom willing to say plainly—is why some governments take the risk seriously and take aggressive steps to mitigate it, while others shrug and say, Que será, será.

It’s tempting to think that people in certain countries are cavalier about the risk because they’re poor. The argument goes like this: safe houses cost more to build than cheap ones do. Cement watered down with sand stretches further. People in poor cities don’t have the money to build safe houses; or if they do, they have decided to use it to mitigate more immediate risks. Before the earthquake in Haiti, it certainly wasn’t possible to say that the odds of a catastrophic quake were 100 percent; the odds, however, that a substantial percentage of the population would die prematurely of malnutrition and preventable childhood disease were 100 percent. No one there could have been persuaded, before the earthquake, to prioritize sound building construction over food.

If wealth were all there were to it, the solution to the problem would be, if not simple, at least obvious. To prepare for an earthquake, promote economic development and cross your fingers. When your country becomes wealthy enough, the problem will solve itself. If we followed this argument to its natural end, we would conclude that the best seismic risk reduction strategy is market liberalization, the reduction of the state sector, and a growth-oriented economic policy that aims to expand the middle class as quickly as possible. In a diversified, developed economy, so this logic goes, private actors will promote earthquake safety and will do so more efficiently than the government. Insurers will not insure improperly retrofitted buildings. Businesses will safeguard their investments by demanding that they be housed in structurally sound buildings. And middle-class people will have the good sense to demand, build, and live in properly retrofitted buildings, since nobody wants to die in an earthquake. Other policy recommendations would follow: for example, don’t press for heavy-handed zoning laws or further regulation of the construction industry because regulation, as every economist knows, imposes economic costs, and any drag on growth is the last thing you need in an economic race against time.

This theory has been voiced in Istanbul, where I live. Mustafa Erdik, chairman of the Department of Earthquake Engineering at Boğazici University, has suggested that Turkey’s best hope is rapid economic growth. If it happens fast enough, he prays, property owners will be able to replace the worst housing stock before the ground starts shaking. If we look at it this way, we see seismic risk reduction as a paradox: the best way to reduce the risk is to ignore it.

The idea is tempting and elegant. But it’s wrong.

Wealth, in and of itself, is not enough to get people to take earthquakes seriously. Here is the evidence. On February 27, 2010, an earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale struck near the city of Concepción, in Chile. While the epicenter was not at the heart of the city, this quake was 100 times bigger than the one that leveled Port-au-Prince. It was so massive that it shortened the length of the day by 1.26 microseconds and moved the earth on its axis by eight centimeters. When it was over, the entire city of Concepción had been moved three yards to the west.

The death toll from this monster was 521. Each death was its own disaster, of course, but the number was nevertheless astoundingly small for an earthquake that, by all rights, should have destroyed Chile as a whole. So minimal was the damage that the Chileans rejected all offers of foreign aid; they didn’t need it. Chile did so well because its building codes are some of the strictest and most advanced in the world and because the codes do not merely exist on paper—they are enforced.

Now consider Turkey. Like Chile, Turkey is no stranger to earthquakes. In 1509, an earthquake killed between 5 and 10 percent of Constantinople’s population. The Ottomans called it Kıyamet-i Suğra, the Minor Judgment Day. Since then, the city has suffered serious quake damage 11 times, most recently at the end of the nineteenth century. In 1939, moreover, came the first of what have now been seven earthquakes on the Anatolian fault line, each exceeding 7 on the Richter scale. Every time a major rupture occurs on the fault, it transfers stress further along the line, making a subsequent earthquake more likely. The quakes are marching westward from eastern Turkey toward Istanbul. The most recent took place in 1999, near Izmit, a city about 60 miles from Istanbul; as many as 45,000 were killed, and 600,000 were left homeless.

There is not a geologist alive who doubts that a major earthquake is likely to hit Istanbul soon. In 2000, the U.S. Geological Survey put the odds of its happening within 30 years at 62 percent; other survey teams give it 70 percent. Erdik has estimated that it will kill between 200,000 and 300,000 people. The cost of the cleanup—$50 billion would be an optimistic estimate—will surely set Turkey’s economy back decades. It will be a political cataclysm, with massive ramifications for the entire region.

Every day, I walk past buildings in Istanbul that are clearly unsound. I see ground floors, for example, with walls or columns removed to make way for store displays, violating one of the most important principles of earthquake-resistant construction. There are vast neighborhoods filled with illegal, flimsy structures called gecekondu, which means “landed overnight.” The gecekondu, which range from crude shanties to concrete multistory apartment blocks, house hundreds of thousands of rural migrants who have come to Istanbul seeking work over the past decade. Gecekondu aren’t built by engineers. They tend to be built on bad soil. They are packed with children.

Even buildings approved by engineers, warned a recent study by the Turkish Chamber of Civil Engineers, are largely not built to code; only half are earthquake-proof. The chamber also warned that 86 percent of the city’s hospitals were at high risk of collapse. Turkey’s biggest builders have freely admitted to using shoddy materials, such as sea sand and scrap iron, in buildings made of reinforced concrete. In fact, construction standards here are so lousy that buildings regularly collapse without the aid of an earthquake.

Is it because Turkey is poor? Per-capita GDP in Chile this year is $15,867. In Turkey, it is $14,077. That’s not a huge difference.

The point becomes even clearer if we consider “nonstructural seismic risk mitigation”—the little things, besides building better houses, that people can do to protect themselves. These steps aren’t expensive. For example, according to studies done by the Istanbul Seismic Risk Mitigation and Preparedness Project, a quake of the size widely predicted would rupture 30,000 natural gas lines. In the aftermath of a stressful event, people do a predictable thing: they smoke. Smoking near a ruptured gas line is a good way to start a fire. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sign or TV commercial anywhere in Istanbul saying, “If it happens, don’t light up.”

Nor have I seen more than a handful of commercials or public service announcements reminding people what else they should do in an earthquake—duck, cover, and hold on. Last year, I stayed in a hotel in Palo Alto. The first thing I noticed in my room was a card on the desk, labeled earthquake safety tips for visitors, with instructions in Spanish and English as well as diagrams. It also provided the phone number of the Office of Emergency Services in Palo Alto in case I had any questions. I’ve never once seen anything like this in a Turkish hotel room.

While it is very expensive to tear down and replace, or reinforce, inadequate housing, it isn’t expensive at all to bolt heavy goods to the walls or to move heavy furniture away from beds. Rarely is this done in Istanbul. The odd thing is that everyone does fear the coming quake. Last year, a minor jolt panicked the city and sent the Turkish word for earthquake, deprem, to the top of Twitter’s trending topics, but almost no one knows what to do if it happens, or cares to know. I know many people in Istanbul who are wealthy enough to live in safer buildings but don’t.

They are fully aware of the risk. When asked why they don’t do anything about it, they shrug. They’re fatalistic. Most Turks think day to day, not long-term.

Contrast Turkey with Japan, where “there’s no such thing as an honest mistake,” as one American who has lived there for years puts it. “Every mistake is a moral failure. In other words, you should have worked harder, you should have prepared better, you should have been more careful. So even their [emergency] practice drills have to be rehearsed. Everybody has practiced.” After the March quake, journalist Kirk Spitzer, who lives in Japan, wrote about the culture of earthquake preparedness there: “Our shelves are lined with rubberized material to keep glasses and plate-ware from sliding; nothing fell over and broke, not even delicate champagne glasses we brought from Paris. Elsewhere, floor-mounted latches kept bedroom and hallway doors from slamming or breaking loose. Picture rails built into the ceiling kept even heavy frames from crashing to the floor.”

Ordinary, middle-class Japanese people take these steps to protect their drinking glasses. Many museums in Istanbul fail to take similar steps to protect priceless sculptures, ceramics, and cuneiform. They sit unsecured on pedestals or underneath light fixtures that would fall on them in heavy shaking. The storage rooms, according to people who work in them, are a hazard zone. This isn’t a matter of comparative wealth; it’s a matter of culture.

You see a similar failure to turn worry into action at the governmental level. Local officials in the municipality of Beşiktaş have elaborate earthquake plans—they showed them to me in a PowerPoint presentation. But they exist only on PowerPoint, where they have existed since 2008 without any progress made toward implementation. This is characteristic of the great majority of earthquake plans drawn up in Turkey since the 1999 quake. No one knows about them—certainly not the public; they look quite thorough, but they do not translate into action. No one seems to have the authority to act on the plans. No one seems to have the authority to release whatever funds would be needed to implement them. No one seems even to know who would have that authority. The funds and grants awarded by various international development agencies for retrofitting and earthquake preparation simply disappear.

Fatalism kills. Short-term thinking kills. But above all, corruption kills. On the anniversary of the Haiti earthquake, Nicholas Ambraseys and Roger Bilham published an extraordinary study in Nature. Using data from Transparency International’s Corruptions Perception Index, they calculated that 83 percent of all deaths from building collapses in earthquakes in the past 30 years took place in countries that were “anomalously corrupt”—that is, in countries that were perceived to be more corrupt than you would predict from their per-capita income.

Economist Charles Kenny’s definitive 2007 study argues persuasively that the construction industry is the most corrupt sector of the world economy. And the more corruption there is in construction—whether it consists of companies’ using substandard materials or of governments’ granting permission to build in zones unsuitable for habitation—the likelier you are to die. In China, the buildings that crumble during earthquakes are schools and hospitals, while the Party’s headquarters and the houses of its functionaries remain standing. In Turkey, building inspectors work on the contractors’ payroll, creating a massive conflict of interest. Changing that system could save countless lives. But the construction companies, for obvious reasons, don’t want that to happen—and all of Turkey’s major political parties run on construction money.

The absence of outright corruption isn’t enough to keep countries safe; it is also essential to have in place a particular kind of legal regime. Strong tort law is the key, and Chile is a model here as well. During the recent earthquake, a new building in Concepción collapsed. Its surviving inhabitants took the builders to court, charging fraud and, in some cases, murder. Chilean law holds the original owner of a building liable for any earthquake damage that it suffers during its first decade, even if ownership has changed during that time. Because of this law, owners often exceed the provisions of Chile’s already strict building codes in their eagerness to avoid liability. And accountability in the Chilean legal system goes to the top. In February, a Chilean court declined to dismiss a lawsuit against the former president, Michelle Bachelet, and other senior officials for malfunctions in the country’s tsunami-warning system.

In China, as you’d expect, tort law is a joke. After the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, which left nearly 90,000 dead or missing, Chinese courts dismissed a lawsuit filed by parents of children crushed to death in collapsed schools. Those who protested were locked up. And in Turkey, the average citizen wants nothing to do with the court system, believing it intimidating, incomprehensible, rigged, and too expensive and time-consuming to use—which it is. I speak from experience, having taken to court a construction company that knocked down a wall of the building I lived in, rendering it unsafe for habitation. I’ve been suing them for years without issue. Last October, charges against the officials who approved the construction of a school that collapsed in a 2003 earthquake, killing 64 students and a teacher, were dropped, owing to the expiration of the statute of limitations. The amount that it costs to open a lawsuit represents a substantial portion of an average Turk’s annual income.

When the Haiti earthquake struck last year, I had a personal reason to be alarmed: my brother and his family lived in Port-au-Prince. They survived, but many of my sister-in-law’s coworkers were crushed to death. From Washington, D.C., I translated text messages sent to an emergency number set up to help search-and-rescue teams locate victims. The messages were awful: “To anyone in the MontJoli-Turgeau area. . . .

Jean-Olivier Neptune is caught under rubbles of his fallen house. . . . He is alive but in very bad shape.” “Please anyone let me know if my uncle Dr. James Plantin who resides in Jacmel is OK. . . . He is not answering the phone.” “Hotel Montana at Rue Franck Cardozo in Petionville collapsed. 200 feared trapped.” “My mother is part of a medical team that had just arrived in Port-au-Prince. We received a text that she and two others are trapped beneath the rubble.”

A quarter of a million people were killed in Haiti, and God knows how many more were maimed, physically and emotionally, by collapsing buildings. This will happen again and again, in larger and larger numbers, with ever-weepier celebrity telethons to accompany the carnage. But you’ll see no calls to save the world from corrupt building practices on your grocery bags at Whole Foods. Nobody will suggest that the American government enter into seismic risk reduction treaties with other nations.

Spin the wheel: Bogotá, Cairo, Caracas, Dhaka, Islamabad, Istanbul, Jakarta, Karachi, Katmandu, Lima, Manila, Mexico City, New Delhi, Quito, Tehran. It will be one of them. It isn’t too late to save them. But we need to say the truth about why they’re at risk in the first place.

Claire Berlinski, a City Journal contributing editor, is an American journalist who lives in Istanbul.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: anarchy; catastrophism; claireberlinski; collapse; earthquake; earthquakes; fatalism; helterskelter; panic; seismicrisk; turkey
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Manhattan's 125th Street fault
1 posted on 08/23/2011 9:09:09 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

I gotta show this to a guy who keeps spewing about how much better off he is having to deal with earthquakes instead of the occasional midwest tornado.


2 posted on 08/23/2011 9:15:39 PM PDT by bigbob
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To: neverdem

Californians, have no fear of this man behind curtain. Good ole California with its ever changing and constantly updated building code is taking quakes into account.


3 posted on 08/23/2011 9:29:28 PM PDT by gunsequalfreedom (Conservative is not a label of convenience. It is a guide to your actions.)
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To: neverdem

Thanks for posting an interesting read. Definitely worth thinking about!


4 posted on 08/23/2011 9:30:18 PM PDT by volunbeer (Keep the dope, we'll make the change in 2012!)
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To: neverdem
But you’ll see no calls to save the world from corrupt building practices on your grocery bags at Whole Foods.

Great line, and so true.

5 posted on 08/23/2011 9:30:40 PM PDT by Semper911 (When you want to rob Peter to pay Paul, you'll always have the support of Paul.)
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To: gunsequalfreedom

Extremely impressed at the minimal building damage (leaving aside the power plants) in Japan. Swaying buildings. Amazing.

Don’t think the U.S. will hold up as well should the same size quake hit.


6 posted on 08/23/2011 9:31:08 PM PDT by TigerClaws
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To: neverdem

I am here in Richmond, VA — the largest metroplex near to the Earthquake today. I am from Los Angeles and was 3 miles from the epicenter of the Northridge Quake.

This was a 5.8.

Richmond reaction: 24 HOUR TEAM COVERAGE OF OUR HORRENDOUS ORDEAL! Thank God no one was hurt or even killed! Here is someone who was near a window when it hit! “Well, Joan, I stepped a few steps away and that was sorta that.”

We will be broadcasting nonstop for the next 24 hours, then we will reduce to only 12 hours a day for the next 3 weeks.

Los Angeles reaction: A tiny 5.8 quake rattled a few nerves today. OK, now to Slappy Jockstrap for the sports of the day! How are Kobe and Tiger doing these last few days, Slappy?


7 posted on 08/23/2011 9:33:43 PM PDT by freedumb2003 (Herman Cain 2012)
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To: TigerClaws

I was on the 12th floor of a 28 story building in an earthquake. It was a mild 5.0 something quake but I sure felt the building swaying. At first I felt like I was dizzy then I realized what it was. I had never been in an earthquake in a tall building before.


8 posted on 08/23/2011 9:36:29 PM PDT by gunsequalfreedom (Conservative is not a label of convenience. It is a guide to your actions.)
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To: bigbob

Your friend is right of course, unless he lives in a third world country. Not much chance any quake is going to kill a million people on the west coast. Might happen in the Midwest when the New Madrid goes off, of course.


9 posted on 08/23/2011 9:38:13 PM PDT by SoCal Pubbie
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To: wardaddy; Joe Brower; Cannoneer No. 4; Criminal Number 18F; Dan from Michigan; Eaker; Jeff Head; ...
Memo to Dennis Henigan: Safer World Without Guns? Prove It

Top Causes of Accidental Death in Kids (5-9 y/o)[Guns?]

Does Obama Have Any Idea Why New Deal Failed?

Only 20% Think Government Anti-Poverty Programs Really Work

Some noteworthy articles about politics, foreign or military affairs, IMHO, FReepmail me if you want on or off my list.

10 posted on 08/23/2011 9:41:08 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: bigbob

Show him this too:

“The total number of people killed by earthquakes in the United States since 1950 was 398. Compare that with the number of deaths from tornadoes in that same period. That number, excluding the current outbreak, totals 4,857.”

-http://coastcontact.wordpress.com/2011/05/24/tornado-zone-or-earthquake-zone/


11 posted on 08/23/2011 9:45:04 PM PDT by SoCal Pubbie
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To: freedumb2003
And what would the reaction in L.A. be to a Cat 3 hurricane? Or two feet of snow (not in the mountains, I mean in Anaheim?) Or two inches of ice? Or an F3 tornado in Burbank?

Do you think we'll point at the folks out there and call them soft?

No.

12 posted on 08/23/2011 9:46:28 PM PDT by buccaneer81 (I'm on Double Secret Probation...That's why my posts are so slow in reply.)
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To: neverdem

Thanks for the ping!


13 posted on 08/23/2011 9:49:29 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl

Earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings kill people.


14 posted on 08/23/2011 9:54:43 PM PDT by null and void (Day 942 of America's holiday from reality...)
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To: neverdem
Is there a condition known a seismic phobia yet?
15 posted on 08/23/2011 9:54:54 PM PDT by BIGLOOK (Keelhaul Congress!)
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To: null and void

That appears to be the point of the article.


16 posted on 08/23/2011 9:57:33 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: gunsequalfreedom
>> “California with its ever changing and constantly updated building code is taking quakes into account.” <<

.
Poorly, I'd like to add.

Our older houses are standing up to quakes far better than the recent ones. Houses are being built too rigid, and the result is foundation ruptures are becoming the rule rather than the exception in California.

17 posted on 08/23/2011 9:59:13 PM PDT by editor-surveyor (Sarah Palin - 2012!)
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To: Alamo-Girl

Yep, I just though I could say it a bit more concisely.

Charm, wit and levity
will win you in the start
but in the end it’s brevity
that keeps the public’s heart...


18 posted on 08/23/2011 9:59:21 PM PDT by null and void (Day 942 of America's holiday from reality...)
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To: neverdem

It’s Bushes fault! OOPS! That is so yesterday. Tea Party’s fault!


19 posted on 08/23/2011 9:59:36 PM PDT by wjcsux ("In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." - George Orwell)
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To: null and void

So very true as you have demonstrated!


20 posted on 08/23/2011 10:01:17 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: freedumb2003

A 7.0 anywhere California not nice but not many dead.

A 7.0 in New York city and total devastation. Likely 100,000+ dead.

An entirely different situation.

Bricks and unreinforced masonry are death in a major earthquake. Both are wide spread on the east coast. Very little remains of it on the west coast. East coasters have every reason to fear earthquakes, earthquakes that would otherwise do little damage on the west coast.


21 posted on 08/23/2011 10:06:33 PM PDT by DB
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To: neverdem
Just be right with God (and Christ).

I mean it.

Every single day.

24/7.

Without fail.

One never, ever knows when these things will hit and will take you away.

22 posted on 08/23/2011 10:08:03 PM PDT by AmericanInTokyo (De-RINOFICATION of the GOP leadership is Job Number ONE. Let's GIT 'ER DONE!!)
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To: freedumb2003
I lived in Japan for over a dozen years, and the reporting here in northern Virginia is stupidly amusing. For example, here in western Fairfax County, I'd rate the quake as an M3.5, maybe up to M4. All of the Washington news reports are that an M5.8 quake 85 miles away equals an M5.8 in D.C.
23 posted on 08/23/2011 10:10:02 PM PDT by VanShuyten ("a shadow...draped nobly in the folds of a gorgeous eloquence.")
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To: gunsequalfreedom
Good ole California with its ever changing and constantly updated building code is taking quakes into account.

LOL. No kidding, every time we have an earthquake, the building department adds more holddowns and shearwalls. But gotta say, it's working.

24 posted on 08/23/2011 10:20:47 PM PDT by Doomonyou (Let them eat Lead. BLOAT!)
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To: neverdem

Nothing like a good armageddon, calamity of massive proportions, the smell of burning corpses, we’re all gonna die “news” to help supper digest. And people wonder why happy pills are prescribed like candy.


25 posted on 08/23/2011 10:28:43 PM PDT by SpaceBar
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To: Doomonyou; gunsequalfreedom

I may have a lot of problems with my home town here L.A. But I have to say that when it comes to Earthquake preparedness, we stand #2 to no one. I have seen statistics that basically state that there is no city in the world more prepared than L.A.

I do my part by having water, food and batteries (I could open up my own Radio Shack) for a pretty log haul. In the Northridge quake aftermath I used a camping stove to make my meals for 2 days (but could have lasted 2 weeks) and somehow made it all work OK.


26 posted on 08/23/2011 10:28:57 PM PDT by freedumb2003 (Herman Cain 2012)
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To: neverdem
If you consider that too strong a claim, try to imagine another way in which bad urban policy could kill a million people in 30 seconds.

"Hyperbole on steroids" is not too strong a response to that statement.

The deadliest earthquake in recorded history killed hundreds of thousands of people, but far short of the "million" you conjured up, and certainly not in 30 seconds. As with most deadlier quakes recorded, the deaths are usually the result of secondary effects of the quake, like tsunamis or landslides, avalanches, buildings trapping victims but not killint them immediately.

Of course, none of the secondary effects can do the damage in 30 seconds.

Of course, urban planning would have had no effect (good or bad) in any great earthquake prior to around 1960, when people like Barbara Boxer were large fish in very small ponds like Marin County California, and the great Goddess of Legislation discovered that any natural disaster, including an ELE event (Extinction-level event) can be prevented by either passing laws forbidding it, or the even easier alternative of prohibiting people to live anywhere, since every square inch of earth is exposed to potential catastrophes 24/7.
Except her own neighborhood, of course.

27 posted on 08/23/2011 10:35:18 PM PDT by Publius6961 (My world was lovely, until it was taken over by parasites.)
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To: BIGLOOK
Is there a condition known a seismic phobia yet?

Yep.
My sister.
She lives in Alexandria and works in DC.

It took me several hours to get through to her, but when I did, I first checked to make sure she was OK.

Then I asked her if she wanted to come to California where it's safer.

Ha ha?

28 posted on 08/23/2011 11:01:16 PM PDT by Publius6961 (My world was lovely, until it was taken over by parasites.)
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To: Publius6961

You’re a sadist, Publius. I like that.


29 posted on 08/23/2011 11:04:14 PM PDT by BIGLOOK (Keelhaul Congress!)
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To: editor-surveyor
Our older houses are standing up to quakes far better than the recent ones. Houses are being built too rigid, and the result is foundation ruptures are becoming the rule rather than the exception in California.

Tell that to the residents of the Marina District in San Francisco. The results of the LOma Prieta shake of '79.

Of course, "old' along the east coast is a LOT older than old in San Francisco, where brick has not been used for residential or commercial construction, since 1906.

30 posted on 08/23/2011 11:05:12 PM PDT by Publius6961 (My world was lovely, until it was taken over by parasites.)
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To: neverdem
The Eastern Seaboard of the US sits in the path of a giant tsunami that could be unleashed at any moment. It almost happened in 1949.
The island of La Palma in the is currently the most volcanically active island in the Canary Islands Archipelago.

The western half of the volcano has an approximate volume of 500 cubic kilometres (120 cu mi) and an estimated mass of 1,500,000,000,000 metric tons (1.7×1012 short tons) If it were to catastrophically slide into the ocean, it could generate a wave with an initial height of about 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) at the island, and a likely height of around 50 metres (164 ft) at the Caribbean and the Eastern North American seaboard when it runs ashore eight or more hours later.

Tens of millions of lives would be lost as New York, Boston, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Miami, Havana, and many other cities near the Atlantic coast are leveled.

As above, this nearly happened in 1949, the last time it erupted:

In 1949, the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted at its Duraznero, Hoyo Negro and San Juan vents. During this eruption, an earthquake with an epicentre near the village of Jedy occurred. The following day Rubio Bonelli, a local geologist, visited the summit area and discovered that a fissure about 2.5 kilometers (1.6 mi) long had opened on the eastern side of the summit. As a result, the western half of the Cumbre Vieja (which is the volcanically active arm of a triple-armed rift) had slipped about 2 meters (6.6 ft) downwards and 1 meter (3.3 ft) westwards towards the Atlantic Ocean...

31 posted on 08/23/2011 11:28:47 PM PDT by Bon mots ("When seconds count, the police are just minutes away...")
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To: TigerClaws

It’s even more impressive when you are IN one of those buildings.

I was on the 27th floor of a downtown Tokyo skyscraper in 2007 when a 6.9 mag quake hit. It’s the closest to being seasick I ever got in my life. Baaaaaaacck and foooooorrth.... baaaaaaaccck and foooooooorth...

After the worst was over, I rushed to the toilets, when I got to the men’s room, I watched in amazement as all the doors on the toilet stalls opened and closed in unison for another minute.

But that, of course, was nothing compared to March 11. I was sure I was going to die then.


32 posted on 08/24/2011 12:41:17 AM PDT by Ronin (Obamanation has replaced Bizarroworld as the most twisted place in the universe.)
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To: freedumb2003
A scene of the damage in DC from yesterday's quake:


33 posted on 08/24/2011 12:52:44 AM PDT by Rummyfan (Iraq: it's not about Iraq anymore, it's about the USA!)
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To: neverdem
Manhattan's 125th Street fault

Nice try. We all know its Bush's fault.

34 posted on 08/24/2011 2:44:15 AM PDT by lowbridge (Rep. Dingell: "Its taken a long time.....to control the people.")
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To: freedumb2003
I am here in Richmond, VA — the largest metroplex near to the Earthquake today. I am from Los Angeles and was 3 miles from the epicenter of the Northridge Quake.

I'm from Philly. I've felt a few earthquakes there, but we just happened to be visiting relatives in Mineral VA yesterday. Never in my 40 years have I felt anything like that.

No, we're not used to a 5.8 quake. And thank God.

Now what's the Los Angeles reaction to a few days straight of rain again? State of Emergency? ;)

35 posted on 08/24/2011 3:27:21 AM PDT by Claud
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To: neverdem

INDEED.

And, with OThuga in the WhiteHouse, we now have a glaring example of how corrupt Marxist globalist organizations . . . labor union goons . . . educational union goons . . . etc. etc. etc.

are destroying our Constitution, our way of life and many millions of lives—and all set and cocked to destroy 100’s of millions of more lives.

But then . . . that’s the DEPOPULATION goal of the Marxist elites, isn’t it.

Sigh.


36 posted on 08/24/2011 5:31:28 AM PDT by Quix (Times are a changin' INSURE you have believed in your heart & confessed Jesus as Lord Come NtheFlesh)
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To: Rummyfan

#33 - lol! Let’s pray that’s all it ever amounts to in our lifetime and beyond.


37 posted on 08/24/2011 5:43:02 AM PDT by Caipirabob ( Communists... Socialists... Democrats...Traitors... Who can tell the difference?)
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To: AmericanInTokyo
Just be right with God (and Christ). I mean it. Every single day. 24/7. Without fail. One never, ever knows when these things will hit and will take you away.

You have found the answer

38 posted on 08/24/2011 6:51:21 AM PDT by marbren (I do not know but, Thank God, God knows)
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To: Publius6961

The marina dist was a liquifaction problem, and nothing would have saved those bvuildings. They were built on wet fill.


39 posted on 08/24/2011 7:57:04 AM PDT by editor-surveyor (Sarah Palin - 2012!)
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To: Rummyfan

You have an excellent sense of humor. Thanks for the laugh today, I sure needed it.


40 posted on 08/24/2011 8:50:38 AM PDT by diamond6 (Check out: http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/home.php and learn about the faith.)
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To: freedumb2003
Don't forget to keep a pair of extra shoes under your bed. Tough to walk through broken glass barefoot.

Also, have you thought of keeping your dishes in the kitchen cabinet drawers instead of up in the cupboards? Actually, it is easier to use them on a day to day basis and if a quake hit they will not be in broken bits on your kitchen counter.

To those that live in the rest of the country and think Californians are nuts to live in an active earthquake region (yea, I know, we are nuts for other reasons but that is a different thread), I'll take it over tornadoes, thunderstorms and hurricanes any day - along with the sunshine, dry heat.

41 posted on 08/24/2011 9:51:51 AM PDT by gunsequalfreedom (Conservative is not a label of convenience. It is a guide to your actions.)
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To: editor-surveyor

Maybe, but have you seen some of the pics from the VA quake? They showed a picture of a concrete block wall that had tumbled. There was no rebar and the web in the blocks was not filled with concrete.

How do you put up a two story cement block building with just mortor joints? I mean, how much extra does it cost to fill the webs with concrete?

I actually saw a guy building a house back east that turned the top row of blocks on their side and then used liquid nail to glue the wood plate to the block, did not even use J bolts.


42 posted on 08/24/2011 10:01:28 AM PDT by gunsequalfreedom (Conservative is not a label of convenience. It is a guide to your actions.)
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To: editor-surveyor
The marina dist was a liquifaction problem, and nothing would have saved those bvuildings. They were built on wet fill.

A real red herring and irrelevant to the discussion referencing "bad urban planning."

Is any sane person going to resort to applying "good" planning now and wipe out all of the San Francisco Downtown area and a good portion of other residential areas near water? San Francisco is surrounded by water on three sides.

It is not reasonable to even suggest that entire towns and cities (and their infrastructure) be erased or moved to areas where there are no risks.
The best we can do is update constructrion methods and design skills as we gain knowledge and experience.
But nothing can ever be totally safe anywhere.

"Planners" are most of what ails communities and large areas. They are political animals, clueless about the consequences of their social engneering, or any engineering for that matter. Yet they are allowed to sway Councils and Supervisors everywhere, who are even more clueless than they are to pursue truly flawed ideas.

43 posted on 08/24/2011 10:52:42 AM PDT by Publius6961 (My world was lovely, until it was taken over by parasites.)
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Comment #44 Removed by Moderator

To: Publius6961

Plenty of good points.

However, I fail to understand how

greedy, self-serving, thoughtless, ignorant

LACK of planning

is inherently

and/OR significantly

BETTER

than greedy, self-serving, corrupt, politicized planning.


45 posted on 08/24/2011 11:26:43 AM PDT by Quix (Times are a changin' INSURE you have believed in your heart & confessed Jesus as Lord Come NtheFlesh)
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To: DB
Largest ever earthquake in California: 1857 01 09 - Fort Tejon, California - M 7.9 Fatalities 1

Largest ever earthquake in New York: 1944 09 05 - Between Massena, New York and Cornwall, Ontario, Canada - M 5.8

Source: Historic United States Earthquakes

Explain again why New York should be concerned about a M7.0 earthquake. I'm not getting it.

46 posted on 08/24/2011 11:34:54 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: Quix; ex-Texan; SunkenCiv

7.0 Magnitude in Peru today - I took a screen shot of it. They may revise/ downgrade/ remove it.

click the link

http://screencast.com/t/m6bgy4a8

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/usc0005j3l.php


47 posted on 08/24/2011 12:10:00 PM PDT by Whenifhow
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To: neverdem

This is easily the best thing I’ve read in months ... thanks for posting.


48 posted on 08/24/2011 1:11:21 PM PDT by GOPJ (126 people were indicted for being terrorists in the last two years. Every one of them was Muslim.)
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To: ArrogantBustard

First, nowhere is free of earthquakes.

Second, I was talking about the east coast in general, my example of New York was to show how buildings are built differently but much of the east is the same.

Our time on this earth has been short. No one knows how big the biggest earthquake has been on the east coast. New faults, some of them large, are being discovered all the time.

The New Madrid fault in Missouri has had some of the largest quakes in the US - and that general area is not prepared.

And the bottom line is, my post was to a person mocking how the east coast people responded to this 5.8 quake. My point was that a moderate quake in California is not the same as a moderate quake in the east.


49 posted on 08/24/2011 1:23:14 PM PDT by DB
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To: gunsequalfreedom

>> “They showed a picture of a concrete block wall that had tumbled. There was no rebar and the web in the blocks was not filled with concrete.” <<

.
Where was the inspector the day they laid up the blocks? This kind of stuff is corruption on a 3rd world scale. The owner surely paid for the building permit, but got no services in exchange for his cash.


50 posted on 08/24/2011 1:31:22 PM PDT by editor-surveyor (Sarah Palin - 2012!)
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