August 4, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica and ‘Big One’ Preparedness

This article was originally published on February 11, 2019 but is being shared again in light of the two earthquakes that rattled the Southlands over Fourth of July weekend. 

Preparing for an earthquake with magnitude of 8.0 or more.

By Keldine Hull

All it took was 10-20 seconds for the 1994 Northridge earthquake to rattle Southern California in a way no earthquake had done before. Dozens of people lost their lives and thousands more were injured as the state reeled from a catastrophic event that cost billions in damages. As devastating as the Northridge earthquake was, seismologists warn that the hypothetical “Big One”- an earthquake magnitude of 8.0 or more- would be even more disastrous.

Twenty-five years after the Northridge earthquake, for many Californians, the likelihood of the “Big One” is imminent. While it’s impossible to predict exactly when or where a massive earthquake will strike, cities throughout Southern California, including Santa Monica, have made vast improvements towards earthquake preparedness. In 2017, the City Council implemented the Seismic Retrofit Program designed to reinforce and strengthen older buildings. According to Nick Furnari, Emergency Services Administrator at the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), “Nearly 2,000 commercial and multi-family residential buildings in the City were identified as potentially seismically vulnerable in need of possible structural improvement and are required to comply with the Program. You can search to see if your building is on the list on the Seismic Retrofit website.”

Santa Monica, like many other cities, continues to be active in both mitigation and preparedness activities. Furnari explains, “We maintain our state of the art Emergency Operations Center 24/7 that is the central command point for large scale emergencies. We conduct Emergency Operations Center drills with city staff and first responders many times throughout the year. One such exercise is the annual Great ShakeOut where we practice how to conduct the city’s initial response after an earthquake.” Furnari continues, “We often partner with community organizations like the American Red Cross, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, and Santa Monica College during these drills to practice information sharing and coordination before an emergency event.”

In 2018, the OEM relaunched a coalition called Santa Monica Organizations Active in Disasters (SMOAID). Furnari continues, “SMOAID consists of leaders from local businesses, non-profits, and community organizations that work together to prepare the community before a disaster and pledge to serve after the disaster. SMOAID fosters a ‘whole community’ approach to disaster planning, meaning that the best way to organize and strengthen Santa Monica’s resilience and response activities is to work across disciplines and sectors.”

In addition, OEM offers disaster education and training to local community and business organizations. For those who live or work in Santa Monica, OEM manages the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Furnari explains, “The damage caused by natural disasters or from manmade events can affect all aspects of a community, including government services. These events can severely restrict or overwhelm our response resources, communications, transportation, and utilities and leave many individuals and neighborhoods cut off from outside support.” Furnari continues, “For the initial period immediately following a disaster, individuals and neighborhoods may need to rely on their own resources and individual skills until help arrives. CERT basic training is designed to prepare you to help yourself and to help others during a catastrophe. The class is offered twice per year by the Office of Emergency Management and teaches medical operations, light search and rescue, community specific hazards, and disaster psychology to name a few.”

To better prepare yourself and those around you for an earthquake, OEM recommends a simple three- step process. The first step is to have your kit ready. Furnari explains, “When developing a preparedness kit, residents should stock up on non-perishable, easy to prepare food that they will actually eat. There’s no sense in storing food that no one in the family likes.” The OEM also recommends storing one gallon of water per person and pet for seven days. Water can be stored in your home, at work and in your car. Furnari continues, “In addition to a flashlight, it’s important to have a radio, extra batteries and a first aid kit available and ready to go. It’s also important to have cash in multiple denominations of bills. If the power goes out and the merchant doesn’t have change for a $50 bill, then it may be an expensive bottle of water for you. Be sure to include your personal essentials such as specific medications, eyeglasses, important documents, baby needs and pet supplies for everyone in your household. Additional items to include in your kit are an extra change of clothes, sturdy shoes and a sleeping bag.”

The second step is to have a plan. Furnari explains, “Know your family communications, household, school and workplace plans. Also know your neighborhood hazards. You can visit myhazards.caloes.ca.gov for more information and resources.”

The third step is to be informed. OEM recommends that if you live or work in Santa Monica, to register for alerts at smalerts.net. You’ll receive texts, emails or phone calls that let you know what to do in the event of a natural disaster or other emergencies.

Communication following a natural disaster can be challenging, but there are ways to get in contact with your loved ones and keep them updated. Furnari explains, “We recommend having an out-of-state contact in case of an emergency. Historically, right after a disaster the communication infrastructure is severely inhibited. This means that it will be highly unlikely that anyone will be able to make phone calls to friends or loved ones. However, we’ve found that texting is easier on the cell networks and often work during an emergency. If you can text an out-of-state friend or relative, they can call other family and post your status on social media on your behalf.”

On December 31, 2018, the US Geological Survey (USGS) partnered with AT&T and the Annenberg Foundation to launch ShakeAlertLA- the nation’s first publicly available earthquake early warning mobile application. Available on all iPhone and Android devices, ShakeAlertLA warns users seconds in advance of an impending earthquake. In some cases, a few seconds could be instrumental in moving to a safer position to ride out an earthquake. According to Mayor Garcetti, “We created the ShakeAlertLA app because getting a few seconds heads-up can make a big difference if you need to pull to the side of the road, get out of an elevator, or drop, cover, and hold on.”

To learn more about how you can be better prepared for any natural disaster, visit: https://www.smgov.net/departments/oem/

Related Posts

Santa Monica’s UCLA Hospital Ranks No. 1 in State, No. 3 in Nation

August 3, 2021

August 3, 2021

Highest set of rankings ever for UCLA Health  By Sam Catanzaro UCLA Health hospitals have ranked No. 1 in both...

La County Health Lifts Water Advisory For Santa Monica Beaches: Santa Monica Beat – August 2, 2021

August 2, 2021

August 2, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * La County Health Lifts Water Advisory For Santa Monica Beaches *...

Man Killed in Santa Monica Hit and Run

August 2, 2021

August 2, 2021

Fatality occurs early Monday morning on Santa Monica Boulevard By Sam Catanzaro A man was killed in a hit and...

Millions of Gallons of Partially Treated Sewage Continue to be Discharged Into Santa Monica Bay

August 2, 2021

August 2, 2021

Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant still not operating at full efficiency following July spill  By Sam Catanzaro Three weeks after a...

Library Director Patty Wong to Leave Santa Monica

July 30, 2021

July 30, 2021

Santa Monica Public Library (SMPL) Director Patty Wong announced recently that she will leave Santa Monica to take on the...

City Council Prioritizes Housing for Historically Displaced Households

July 28, 2021

July 28, 2021

At its meeting on July 13, Santa Monica City Council made changes to Santa Monica’s Affordable Housing Production Program and...

Homeless Man Charged with Hate Crime in Assault of Korean Woman in Santa Monica

July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

Melvin Taylor faces charges in connection to July 23 incident By Sam Catanzaro Hate crime charges have been filed against...

Homeless Advocate Arrested Near Shelter on Suspicion of Dealing Drugs, Claims no Wrongdoing

July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

65-year-old Garry Featherstone accused of selling meth, PCP By Sam Catanzaro A self-described homeless outreach advocate was recently arrested near...

Off Leash Dog Park And Picnic Area Coming To Downtown Santa Monica: Santa Monica Beat – July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

July 27, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Off Leash Dog Park And Picnic Area Coming To Downtown Santa...

Two Arrested for Main Street Bike Shop Burglary

July 23, 2021

July 23, 2021

Two suspects were arrested for the burglary of a Main Street bike store after the owner witnessed the crime via...

Council Selects Berkeley Deputy City Manager to Helm Santa Monica

July 23, 2021

July 23, 2021

David White to be Santa Monica’s next City Manager starting in October  By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica City Council has...

Ocean Park Library Set to Reopen

July 20, 2021

July 20, 2021

New self-service hours begin July 28 By Sam Catanzaro The Santa Monica Public Library’s Ocean Park Branch is set to...