Imagine the Los Angeles skyline in its entirety. Include the apartment and commercial buildings; the houses old and new. Now, imagine 50 percent of those buildings gone—collapsed either partially or completely.
That is the bleak picture that U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones painted for attendees during the 2015 Great California ShakeOut Breakfast Leadership Summit on Sept. 30.
Los Angeles has not experienced a major earthquake in 20 years. The last large temblor to slam the region was the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Since then, California faults have been in a quiet period that Jones and other experts on her team insist won’t last.
The period of smooth sailing has caused home and commercial building owners to relax their approach to protecting structures against the damage they could sustain in the violent shaking during a substantial quake.
Lack of action to strengthen structures, however, renders the millions of people who live and work in the city’s 300,000 unstable buildings susceptible to displacement from work or homes, and even disaster-related death.