EARTHQUAKE PREPARDENESS AND SAN FRANCISCO
God forbid that we have a very large earthquake of a magnitude of 8.5 or even a 7.5 magnitude with the epicenter a mile of so from San Francisco. The last time we had a large earthquake the epicenter was very near present Daly City a few miles into the Pacific Ocean.
In the 1930s and 1940 most of the homes in the Avenues were not there. One could see sand dunes for miles reaching out into the Ocean. The Golden Gate Park was all sand dunes so it is amazing the amount of work that went to create the Golden Gate Park. The two windmills closer to the ocean gave all the fresh water the Golden Gate Park needed.
If we do experience a big earthquake thousands of homes in the Sunset will be no more Ð they will fall down like a box of matches. Why so? Most of the homes do not have the required foundation nor is the soil on which they stand capable of a high intensity or 25% ground vibration.
The last time we had an earthquake in 1906 most of the homes were destroyed because of the fire. In the 1989 earthquake we saw homes crumble in the Marina District. We saw freeways topple and even the Bay Bridge experienced some very serious damage.
The City and County of San Francisco do not have an Emergency Plan in Place to serve thousands. Our population is closer to 740,000. The first element that should be in place is a map which can be got from the United States Geological Survey which can pin point and give each home owner a sense of the soil assessment and how safe are their homes.
It is important that City Planning pinpoint this to the homeowners. If they cannot the City Building Inspection Team should have a number of people funded to gather and impart this information. Right now the City Building Inspection is better inclined to do this work and has Transparency and Accountability on its side. City Planning is corrupt and will not be able to deliver. Funds within Building Inspection should remain with the Building Inspection Department not given to Planning.
We do not have hospitals, emergency shelters, food centers to cater to over 9000 homes that will be directed impacted. Hundreds of facilities will be affected from serious structural damage will add to the casualties. Our Fire Department and Police Department has some experience but does not have the ability to help thousands of people who will be affected. The General Hospital will not stand a big earthquake.
We have in recent years improved our communication system but we do not have personnel who are trained to take commands from single source command posts. Right now it is a joke Ð one hand does not really know what the other hand is doing Ð when it comes to dealing with thousands of people being moved from one area to another safe area. Moving dead people from many areas to one center for count tally.
Our City is Earthquake prone and City Planning continues to build high rise buildings. Our City Building Inspectors have done well by participating in some precise studies and more detail studies should be funded to inform the constituents of San Francisco and the Bay Area.
In a major Earthquake our aging infrastructure will fail there is no doubt about that. The over 900 miles of pipes carrying clean water and sewer pipes will fail. Even brand new pipes will break and cause disruption in service.
Our clean water reservoirs are now being repaired but cannot stand over 25% of ground vibration. Experts will tell you that if does happen closer to San Francisco every home and building will be affected.
25% ground vibration will bring down our movable bridges and affect seriously our freeways. Transmission lines will be downed and other critical energy sources damaged.
Roads, freeways, electricity flow, water flow, sewer flow, and a host of important elements that we take for granted will be affected. Rent control housing is most vulnerable. Most rent control housing where most renters live were built before 1970s. Where will these people go? Buildings build in the 1980s and some current ones have superior designs but they too will be prone to damage. Mother Nature always wins we humans play second fiddle.
The Presidio of San Francisco where I once worked have many housing units and building facilities. Many of the housing units and large buildings are prone to a large earthquake. I hope the over 1500 garages underground at the Letterman Digital Art Center will stand a large earthquake. It is after all a contemporary building.
The 12 years enforcement by the San Francisco Building Inspection with high standards and encouraging reinforced masonry helps some. The old housing stock in San Francisco we have is more prone to a large earthquake. Over 90% of our housing stock will suffer badly the rest 10% will be affected but will be hit by serious damage. San Francisco sits between two major faults and San Francisco City Planning is not paying attention to this pertinent and critical fact.
I have witnessed several Earthquakes all over the world. The worst one I saw was the Koyna Earthquake a few miles from Pune, India. Huge crevices 100 feet wide and more showed the results of the powerful earthquake. The earthquake that affected the Marina District was far away and so we learned a lot and were not affected much. For sure the Marina sandy soil acted like jelly took huge buildings up and down and many huge buildings had no chance standing their ground in the Mariana District.
Our City Planning has not factored the Earthquake Element into the Housing Element. An Environmental Impact Report would reveal much. Issuing a Negative Declaration linked to the Housing Element is the wrong way to go. The Transportation Study done by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority does not take into account a large Earthquake of magnitude 7.5 closer to San Francisco.
City Planning should communicate with the United States Geological Survey. City Building Inspection Department. City, State, and Federal Emergencies Services. Fire and Police Department, various qualified search and rescue organization and Non-Governmental Organization involved with relief work all over the world.
The City and County of San Francisco have begun to study some Earthquake issues. We have a long way to go with concrete plans to face a major earthquake closer to home we call San Francisco.
Major Earthquake Likely to Strike San Francisco
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